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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.1 Albert Way, comic drawings

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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. 


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