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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.39 'Moonshine' magazine cartoon

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Moonshine, the self-styled ‘Best Topical Comic Paper’ published in London, featured Darwin in its series of ‘Days with Celebrities’ in 1881. The idea of the series was to picture the private lives of famous contemporaries. Darwin – heavily caricatured, but not animalistic – is portrayed in the centre of the sheet, and around him are the episodes in his supposed domestic routine. ‘Rises 7 a.m.; Breakfast 8 a.m.; Darwin on the worm, the early worms’ (digging in his garden); ‘the missing link’ (encountering a decadent-looking and effete male visitor); ‘are they musical?’ (playing the piano); ‘are they teetotallers?’ (looking into a teapot); ‘the raw material’ (a fiendish-looking ape in the wild, and Darwin shaking hands with caged monkeys in the zoo); ‘dear old pals’ (intended to portray Darwin with Joseph Hooker?); and ‘the finished article’ (Darwin in formal dress). At the bottom of the design he appears to be speaking from a rostrum or platform. The humour is feeble, but the cartoon nevertheless indicates a benign public interest in Darwin’s character and domestic life in his final years, partly due to the popular success of his book on worms.  

  • physical location British Library 

  • accession or collection number P.P. 5272.p 

  • copyright holder British Library 

  • originator of image signed with initials ‘MB’ as draughtsman; signed by [Charles] Hancock as engraver 

  • date of creation October 1881 

  • computer-readable date  1881-10-1 to 1881-10-29 

  • medium and material wood engraving 

  • references and bibliography ‘Days with Celebrities (19) Mr. Darwin’, Moonshine, vol.4 (29 Oct. 1881), p. 205; there is no accompanying article. This weekly magazine was edited by Arthur Clements, with ‘Cartoons by John Proctor. Comic Sketches by A. Bryan, and other eminent artists’. 


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