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Darwin Correspondence Project

Suggested reading


Examples of letters from the archive
Examples of letters from the archive
Cambridge University Library

There is an extensive secondary literature on Darwin's life and work. Here are some suggested titles that focus Darwin’s correspondence, as well as scientific correspondence and letter-writing more generally.

Collections of Darwin’s letters

  • Barlow, N., ed. 1958. The autobiography of Charles Darwin. London: Collins.
  • Burkhardt, F., et al., eds. 1985– The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press
  • Burkhardt, F., ed. 2008. Charles Darwin: the Beagle letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Burkhardt, F., et al., eds. 2008. Evolution: selected letters of Charles Darwin 1860–1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Burkhardt, F., ed. 2008. Origins: selected letters of Charles Darwin, 1822–1859. Anniversary edition. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
  • Darwin, F., ed. 1887 The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. London: John Murray.

Sources on scientific correspondence and letter-writing

On Darwin’s correspondence:

  • Browne, J. 1995–2002. Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: Jonathan Cape. Esp. pp. 1: 10–13.
  • Moore, J. R. 1985. Darwin’s Genesis and Revelations. Isis 76: 570–80.
  • Secord, J. 1981. Nature’s fancy: Charles Darwin and the breeding of pigeons. Isis 72: 163–86.
  • Secord, J. 1985. Darwin and the breeders: a social history, in The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pp. 519–42.
  • White, P. 2007. Letters and the scientific life in the age of professionalization, in New Perspectives in British Cultural History, edited by R. Crone. Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • White, P. 2008. Correspondence as a Medium of Reception and Appropriation, in The reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, edited by Thomas Glick and Eve-Marie Engels. London: Continuum.

On correspondence in science:

  • Goodman, D. 1994. The republic of letters: a cultural history of the French Enlightenment. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Pp. 136–52.
  • Miller, D. P. 1996. Joseph Banks, empire, and ‘Centers of calculation’ in Late Hanoverian London, in Visions of empire: voyages, botany and representations of nature, edited by D. P. Miller and H. P. Riell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 21–37.
  • Secord, A. 1994. Corresponding interests: artisans and gentlemen in nineteenth-century natural history. British Journal for the History of Science 27: 383–408.
  • Shteir, A. B. 1990. Botanical dialogues: Maria Jackson and women’s popular science writing in England. Eighteenth-Century Studies 23: 301–17.
  • Spary, E. C. 2000. Utopia’s garden: French natural history from old regime to revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chapter 2.

On the history of letter writing:

  • Altman, J. G. 1992. Epistolary conduct: the evolution of the letter manual in France in the eighteenth century. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 304: 866–69.
  • Bazerman, C. 2000. Letters and the social grounding of differentiated genres, in Letter writing as a social practice, edited by David Barton and Nigel Hall. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. 15–29.
  • Chartier, R. 1997. An ordinary kind of writing: model letters and letter-writing in Ancien Régime France, in Correspondence: models of letter-writing from the middle ages to the nineteenth century, edited by R. Chartier et al. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp. 1–23.
  • Earle, R., ed. 1999. Epistolary selves: etters and letter-writers, 1600–1945. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Hall, N. 1999. The materiality of letter writing, in Letter writing as a social practice, edited by D. Barton and N. Hall. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Pp. 83–108.
  • Hornbeak, K. G. 1934. The compleat letter-writer in English, 1568–1800. Smith College Studies in Modern Languages 15.

On letter writing as literary form:

  • Beebee, T. O. 1999. Epistolary fiction in Europe, 1500–1850. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Favret, M. A. 1993. Romantic correspondence: women, politics, and the fiction of letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • MacArthur, E. J. 1990. Extravagant narratives: closure and dynamics in the epistolary form. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Pp. 36–43.

Some 19th-century sources on letter writing:

  • Davies, J. 1870. Letter writing. Quarterly Review 129: 220–44.
  • Lucas, E. V. 1898. Concerning correspondence. Cornhill Magazine 77: 509–17.
  • Lyell, A. 1896. English letter writing in the nineteenth century. Edinburgh Review 183: 306–35.
  • Roberts, W. 1843. History of letter-writing from the earliest period to the fifth century. London: William Pickering.