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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   14 August [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Aug. 14th

My dear Fox

You will remember telling me (& I have quoted the fact) that you had seen a dozen instances of white cats with blue eyes being deaf:2 now can you by an extraordinary chance remember the sex of any of them; as Mr Lawson Tait says it is only males which are thus affected.3

Ever yours | In Haste | C. Darwin


The year is established by the printed letterhead, which is of a sort that CD used between 1875 and 1882, and by the fact that CD cited Fox’s reply to this letter in Variation 2d ed. 2: 322 n. 24; CD was working on the second edition of Variation in the summer of 1875.
See Variation 2: 329.
Lawson Tait had published letters in the Pall Mall Gazette, 26 February 1868, p. 771, and in Scientific Opinion, 7 July 1869, p. 113, claiming that deafness was confined to male white cats (though not all male white cats were deaf), and that eye colour was a matter of indifference. There are lightly annotated clippings of the letters in DAR 164: 183a and 183b. Fox’s reply to this letter was published in Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement, with the date 16 August [1860?]; it should now be redated 16 August [1875].


Variation 2d ed.: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1875.


Can WDF recall the sex of the deaf white cats.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Nate D. Sanders Auctions (dealer) (29 August 2019, lot 37)
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10121F,” accessed on 4 June 2023,