Gender ‘Behind the Scenes’

Darwin praises Henrietta’s corrections of ‘Descent’, CUL DAR 185:58 (1870)

The Darwin Correspondence Project recently launched an online exhibit - ’Darwin Behind the Scenes.’ The exhibit uses Charles Darwin’s personal correspondence as a means of gleaning information about the relationship between his life, Victorian culture and the writing and content of his major works. Among other things, this exhibit brings to light the multifaceted influences that women had on Darwin’s work, revealing how Darwin’s work engaged with Victorian notions of women, gender and sexuality.


‘Darwin Behind the Scenes’
online exhibition

The online exhibit provides insight into Darwin’s role not only as a creator of scientific theories but also as a father, husband, friend and researcher who relied upon a diverse array of people’s observations and specimen-gathering. The contributions of various women, including Henrietta Darwin, Lady Dorothy Nevill, and Mary Treat, to Darwin’s scientific work are highlighted. Additionally, this resource showcases Darwin and his publisher’s cautious handling of sexuality in The Descent of Man (1872), highlighting the ways in which concerns for respectability shaped the content and the audience of Darwin’s work.


Visit the online exhibit here to learn more about how Charles Darwin contended with and was influenced by issues surrounding women, gender and sexuality in Victorian Britain.


Posted by Philippa Hardman


This exhibit was supported by the Parasol Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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