Known to his family as ‘Frank’, Charles Darwin’s seventh child himself became a distinguished scientist. He was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, initially studying mathematics, but then transferring to natural sciences.
Emma Darwin, Charles Darwin's wife and first cousin, was born Emma Wedgwood, the eighth and youngest child of Josiah Wedgwood II and Bessy Allen. Her father was the eldest son of the famous pottery manufacturer, Josiah Wedgwood I. Her mother was one of eleven children brought up in a remote country house in Wales. Emma was part of a large and lively extended family, Unitarian in religion, liberal in politics, and with links to the intellectual elite of the country. Her immediate family lived at Maer Hall in rural Staffordshire, a few miles from the Etruria pottery works.
Charles Darwin’s observations on the development of his children, began the research that culminated in his book The Expression of the emotions in man and Animals, published in 1872, and his article ‘A biographical sketch of an infant’, published in Mind in 1877. The full text of the notebook is available below.
Charles Darwin married Emma Wedgwood in 1839 and over the next seventeen years the couple had ten children. It is often assumed that Darwin was an exceptional Victorian father. But how extraordinary was he? The Correspondence Project allows an unusually large number of letters sent by members of the Darwin family to be studied. However, in order to place Darwin’s experiences and beliefs about fatherhood in a wider historical context, we can read them alongside the letters, diaries and autobiographies written by fathers who were his friends and neighbours. By Siân Pooley.
'As for Mr Darwin, he is entirely fascinating…' In October 1868 Jane Gray and her husband spent several days as guests of the Darwins, and Jane wrote a charming account of the visit in a sixteen-page letter to her sister. She described Charles and Emma Darwin, their daughter Henrietta, Down House and its grounds, the daily routine of the household, and her own part in one of Darwin’s experiments.
Henrietta “Etty” Darwin (1843–1927) was the eldest of Charles Darwin’s daughters to reach adulthood. She married Richard Buckley Litchfield in 1871. She was a valued editor to her father as well as companion and correspondent to both of her parents.
Charles and Emma Darwin’s eldest daughter, Annie, died at the age of ten in 1851. Emma was heavily pregnant with their fifth son, Horace, at the time and could not go with Charles when he took Annie to Malvern to consult the hydrotherapist, Dr Gully. Darwin wrote a memorial of his daughter just one week after her death, and Emma Darwin kept a poignant set of notes about the reaction to her death of Annie’s younger sister, Henrietta.
On 11 November 1838 Darwin wrote in his journal ‘The day of days!’. He had proposed to his cousin, Emma Wedgwood, and been accepted; they were married on 29 January 1839. Darwin appears to have written these two notes weighing up the pros and cons of marriage in the months immediately preceding his engagement.