skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

4.1 Albert Way, comic drawings

The earliest identifiable comic drawings of Darwin are these pen sketches by his Cambridge undergraduate friend Albert Way of Trinity College, which must date from c. 1828-30. They refer to his passion for beetle-collecting – a passion shared with Way himself, and with William Darwin Fox, Darwin’s cousin and closest friend at Cambridge. Darwin, wearing a top hat, is whimsically shown riding on a beetle and brandishing the net he used to capture insects. The milestone on the right of the lower drawing shows that he is just a mile from Cambridge. The sketches are captioned ‘DARWIN & his HOBBY’ and ‘Go it Charlie!’  Darwin seems to have endeared himself to his youthful companions on field trips by his infectious enthusiasm. In 1881, a Shrewsbury schoolfellow, Edward James Justinian George Edwards, sent Darwin a portrait he had found in ‘an old portfolio’, presumably of Darwin himself as a boy, and recalled going on a botanical collecting trip with him in their schooldays. The portrait itself has not come to light. 

  • physical location Darwin archive, Cambridge University Library 

  • accession or collection number DAR 204.29 

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image Albert Way 

  • date of creation c. 1828-30 

  • computer-readable date c.1828-01-01 to 1830-12-31 

  • medium and material pen and ink drawings 

  • references and bibliography Francis Darwin (ed.), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 3 vols (London: John Murray, 1887, 1888), vol. 1, pp. 50-1. Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin (London: Michael Joseph, 1991, pp. 58-9, illus. 15. Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: Voyaging, Volume 1 of a Biography (London: Pimlico, 1996), pp. 99-100. Letter from E.J.J.G. Edwards to Darwin, 28 June 1881, in DAR 99:201: DCP-LETT-13224. 


In this section: