skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Hunt   3 May [1866]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 3

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note. I enclose a copy of a sketch of the principal events in my life which will give you all the facts & more that you require.2

Believe me my dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


Charles Robert Darwin born Feb 12 1809 at Shrewsbury, son of Dr Robert Waring Darwin F.R.S. & grandson of Dr Erasmus Darwin F.R.S author of the Botanic Garden, Zoonomia &c3 & grandson by the mother’s side of Josiah Wedgwood F.R.S the celebrated potter.4 Educated at Shrewsbury school under Dr Butler afterwards Bishop of Lichfield.5

In the winter of 1825 went to the Edinburgh University for two years, & thence to Christ’s College Cambridge, where he took his B.A. degree in 1831. In the autumn of 1831 Captain Fitz Roy R.N.,6 having offered to give up part of his own cabin to any Naturalist who would accompany H.M.S Beagle in her surveying voyage & circumnavigation, Mr Darwin volunteered his services without salary, but on condition that he should have the entire disposal of his collections. The Beagle sailed from England Dec. 27 1831 & returned Oct. 22. 1836.7 Mr Darwin published a volume as part of Captain Fitz Roy’s general work descriptive of the voyage, in 1839.8 This volume was republished in a modified form under the title of “Journal of researches” &c in 1845 & has since been several times reprinted.9 Between the year 1840 & 1843 Mr Darwin edited the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle giving an account of the habits & ranges of the various animals therein described. In aid of the publication of this & the following works the Lords of the Treasury granted £1000.10 In 1842 Mr Darwin published his work on “The Structure & distribution of Coral Reefs”.11 In 1845, “Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands”, & in 1846, “Geological Observations on South America”.12 In 1851 & 1854 Mr Darwin published two volumes by aid of the Ray Society on Pedunculated & Sessile Cirripedes, & the Paleontographical Society published for him two volumes on the Fossil Species of the same class.13 Towards the close of 1859 Mr Darwin published his “Origin of Species, of which four English editions have appeared, & nine foreign editions in French, German, Dutch, Italian & Russian.14 Above one hundred reviews, pamphlets & separate books have been published on this work.15

In 1862 Mr D. published a book “On the various contrivances by which Orchids are fertilized.”16

Of separate papers published by Mr D. the more important have been “On the connection of certain Volcanic Phenomena in South America”; “On the Distribution of Erratic boulders in S. America”; “on the formation of Mould by Earthworms” & on the Geology of the Falkland I’s;” all published in the Trans. of the Geolog. Soc.17

In the journal of the Linnean Soc. three papers by him have appeared on the Dimorphous & Trimorphous states of Primula, Linum & Lythrum; & one paper “On the Movements & habits of Climbing Plants”, which has also been published as a separate work.18

The Royal Soc. in 1853 awarded to Mr D. the Royal Medal, & in 1864, the Copley medal. In 1859 the Geolog. Soc. awarded him the Wollaston medal.19

Mr D. married his cousin Emma Wedgwood in the beginning of 1839 by whom he has a large family.20

He has lived for the last 26 years at Down near Farnborough Kent, & is a magistrate for that county.21


The year is established by the publication date of the fifth volume of Reeve and Walford eds. 1863–7, Portraits of men of eminence. A photograph of CD and a memoir edited by Hunt appeared in this volume, which was published in 1866. The letter is bound with Hunt’s proof copy of the text at the Natural History Museum, London (De Beer ed. 1959a, p. 37).
See n. 1, above. Hunt also later wrote on scientific practitioners for the DNB. He had corresponded with CD about light in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5).
E. Darwin 1789–91 and 1794–6; see also E. Darwin 1797, 1800, and 1803.
CD refers to Josiah Wedgwood I. Wedgwood’s daughter Susannah married Robert Waring Darwin in 1796.
Samuel Butler.
Robert FitzRoy.
On this period of CD’s life see Correspondence vol. 1.
Journal and remarks.
Journal and remarks, volume 3 of FitzRoy’s Narrative, was issued in its own right as Journal of researches in the same year, 1839, and reprinted in 1840. A second edition was printed in 1845 and reprinted in 1852 and 1860. See Freeman 1977.
CD began work on Zoology in October 1837; publication of the parts began in February 1838 and was completed in October 1843 (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). On the publication of Zoology and on the Treasury grant, see Freeman 1977 and Correspondence vol. 2.
Coral reefs.
Volcanic islands was published in 1844 and South America in 1846.
CD refers to Living Cirripedia (1851) and (1854), and Fossil Cirripedia (1851) and (1854). On the publication of these books, see Correspondence vol. 5.
By the end of 1866 there had been four English editions of Origin, one Dutch (Winkler trans. 1860), two French (Royer trans. 1862 and 1866), two German (Bronn trans. 1860 and 1863), one Italian (Canestrini and Salimbeni trans. 1864), and two Russian (Rachinskii trans. 1864 and 1865). There had also been one US edition.
CD maintained a list of reviews of Origin and his other works; the list is now in DAR 262.8: 9–18 (Down House MS). See also Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VII. On the worldwide reception of Darwin’s work, see Glick ed. 1988.
‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’; ‘Distribution of erratic boulders’; ‘Formation of mould’; ‘On the geology of the Falkland Islands’.
‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’; ‘Two forms in species of Linum’; ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’; ‘Climbing plants’ and Climbing plants.
See Correspondence vol. 5, letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 November 1853]; Correspondence vol. 12 and Appendix IV; and Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Phillips, 21 January [1859].
On CD’s marriage to Emma, see Correspondence vol. 2. The marriage took place on 29 January 1839 (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). CD and Emma had seven surviving children.
CD moved to Down in September 1842 (see Correspondence vol. 2). He was a county magistrate from 1857 (J. R. Moore 1985, p. 467; see also Milner 1994, pp. 90–5).


Encloses a sketch of the principal events in his life [for RH’s memoir on CD in Walford, ed., Portraits of men of eminence (1863–7)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Hunt
Sent from
Source of text
The Natural History Museum, London (Gen. Lib. MSS/HUN: 49)
Physical description
1p, encl 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5524,” accessed on 24 October 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14