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Darwin Correspondence Project

Darwin and women: a selection of letters

A shorter version of this film is available on the Cambridge University Press video stream.


Darwin and Women focusses on Darwin's correspondence with women and on the lives of the women he knew and wrote to. It includes a large number of hitherto unpublished letters between members of Darwin's family and their friends that throw light on the lives of the women of his circle and their relationships, social and professional, with Darwin. The letters included are by turns entertaining, intriguing, and challenging, and are organised into thematic chapters, including botany and zoology as well as marriage and servants, that set them in an accessible narrative context. Darwin's famous remarks on women's intelligence in Descent of Man provide a recurring motif, and are discussed in the foreword by Gillian Beer, and in the introduction. The immediacy and variety of these texts make this an entertaining read which will suggest avenues for further research to students.

Read more from the book's editor, Samantha Evans, in her blogs on 'Emma Darwin and women's higher education', 'The story of Amy and Elizabeth', and 'Julia Wedgwood’s Pamphlet on Women’s Suffrage'.