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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William John Broderip  [August–December 1838]

Dear Broderip

I am anxious to have two minute’s conversation with you about shells. Mr Sowerby is now in town, & I hope, if you can screw a little time out of your innumerable avocations, that you will be able to begin, & then end will soon be made with my small collection.1

Shall you dine at the Athenæum2 any day soon? If you would send me a note & tell me, the first day, you thought you should be there, I would meet you & have my short say, as I dine there almost every day.—

Believe me | Yours truly obliged | Chas. Darwin 36 Grt. Marlbro’ St



Broderip had an ‘unrivaled conchological cabinet’, ultimately purchased by the British Museum (DNB). He is cited by CD in South America, p. 30, as having identified South American shells similar to some CD had collected; his advice was being sought on the fossil shells described by George Brettingham Sowerby in the Appendixes of Volcanic islands and South America.
CD had been elected to the Athenæum on 21 June 1838, under a special ruling by which forty new members were added to the Club. The elections were left to a committee ‘with the instructions that the persons chosen should … [be] men distinguished in literature, art or science, or well known as patrons of one or other of them. The election was to be exercised with due formalities, and must be unanimous.’ Charles Dickens was among those elected with CD (T. H. Ward 1926, p. 53). CD first dined at the Club early in August (see letter to Charles Lyell, 9 August [1838]).


Would like to arrange a meeting about CD’s collection of shells [from the Beagle voyage].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William John Broderip
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Fitzwilliam Museum
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 422,” accessed on 23 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2