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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Ellen Frances Lubbock   [27 August – 1 September 1865]1

Dear Mr. Darwin

John is still away. I expect him home on Saturday or Sunday.2 Just at present he is with Prof. Steenstrup in the country about Pressigny & Pont le Voye.3

He seems quite overwhelmed with the number of flints he has found—4 he says they filled two carriages in one day. I cannot imagine what it will cost to bring home his luggage, nor where we shall put the contents when they arrive.

I believe Prof. Steenstrup will return with him, for the B. Ass. next week.5

I am very sorry indeed to hear so bad an account of your health for the last few months. I am sure one of the things John is most looking forward to in returning to High Elms is the chance of seeing you now & then when you are feeling pretty well.6

Please remember me most kindly to Mrs. Darwin & to Etty,7 & believe me yours most sincerely | Ellen Lubbock


The date is established by the references to the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting and the return of John Lubbock from France (see nn. 2 and 5, below). The letter was written in the week before the British Association meeting, which started 6 September 1865, that is, in the week beginning 27 August, and before Lubbock’s return on ‘Saturday or Sunday’, that is, 2 or 3 September 1865.
Ellen Lubbock refers to the return of her husband, John Lubbock, on 2 or 3 September 1865. See n. 3, below.
Lubbock was with Japetus Steenstrup in France at le Grand Pressigny, about forty miles south of Tours, and Pontlevoy in the Loire Valley (Times atlas).
Steenstrup and Lubbock were investigating prehistoric artefacts, including flints, the chipped or flaked stone implements, sometimes found in geological formations with fossils of extinct mammals.
The British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in 1865 was held at Birmingham, between 6 and 13 September. Steenstrup and Lubbock presented a paper ‘On the flints of Pressigny le Grand’, a brief synopsis of which appeared in the Report of the thirty-fifth meeting of the British Association for the advancement of science; held at Birmingham in September 1865, Transactions of the sections, p. 129. They presented a similar paper to the Ethnological Society in June 1866 (Steenstrup and Lubbock 1866).
High Elms, the Lubbock family home, was a short distance from Down House. John Lubbock made it his residence following the death of his father, John William Lubbock, on 20 June 1865 (The Times, 23 June 1865, p. 12).
Emma Darwin and Henrietta Emma Darwin.


JL is in France with J. Steenstrup.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ellen Frances Lubbock
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 170: 10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4603,” accessed on 25 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13