From Anne Barnard 30 March 1871
Bartlow | Leckhampton | Cheltenham
March 30 th. 1871—
Dear Mr. Darwin
Though I have not seen you since I was a child, the only excuse I shall make for troubling you with a letter, is that your “Descent of Man” has recalled to my mind something which I think may interest you.1 On Octr. 20th. 1852, I visited the Idiot Asylum at Colchester,2 with my father, Prof: Henslow— In the room of “Incurables”, a girl was pointed out to us, who had very remarkable ears—“like a donkey’s”—the attendant said, but that was an exaggeration. After the lapse of so many years, I cannot pretend to describe them very accurately, especially as the sights in the room were too horrid for us to care to remain there many minutes The impression left on my mind is, that the ears rose to an unusual height, and were pointed somewhat like this3
It is possible that there may be doctors or attendants still at the Asylum, who may remember her, and be able to give you more accurate information about her, if you think it worth while to enquire, it is not impossible that she may be still alive.
I fear however, that there is—or was then, a limit to the number of years spent by any patient in the Asylum, and it is therefore very unlikely that you would find her there now—
Believe me to remain | Yrs. truly | Anne Barnard
On reading Descent was reminded of having seen, on a visit to an idiot asylum with her father [J. S. Henslow], a woman with long pointed ears.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7644,” accessed on 21 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-7644