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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.56 'Larks' cartoon

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The humorous magazine Larks, which sold at a halfpenny, featured a cartoon titled Darwinism in 1893. A well-dressed woman and her little daughter are visiting the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, and stop to look at Boehm’s monumental statue of Darwin, unveiled in 1885, which stood on a high plinth on the landing of the grand staircase at the far end of the entrance hall. The ‘precocious child’ enquires, ‘”And is this a fossil monkey, ma?”’ The joke arises from the popular impression of Darwin’s theories, but also reflects the persistent idea that Darwin did actually resemble an ape in his facial features. However, it also refers to the Museum’s policy of mounting displays that were intelligible and interesting to lay visitors; those in the hall illustrated Darwin’s evolutionary theories. 

  • physical location British Library 

  • accession or collection number PENP.NT 166 

  • copyright holder British Library 

  • originator of image unknown 

  • date of creation October 1893 

  • computer-readable date 1893-10-01 to 1893-10-15 

  • medium and material photographic process, from a pen drawing 

  • references and bibliography Larks 1:25 (16 October 1893), p. 197. William Thomas Stearn, The Natural History Museum at South Kensington. A History of the Museum, 1753-1980 (London: Natural History Museum, 1998), fig 8 (with incorrect date). 


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