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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   16 October 1875

Bank, Southampton,

Oct 16 1875

Dear Father,

I have sent off the Orchis Bk. to Gentry.1 I send some of the penholders we find so nice.2 You should have Morley’s article on Diderot & the Encyclopædia in Septr. Fortnightly read aloud it is very interesting.3

When you get some more copies of the new edition of the “Descent” will you put one on one side for me.4

Your affect son | W. E. Darwin


William sent a copy of Orchids to Thomas George Gentry, who had sent CD a copy of his article ‘The fertilization of certain flowers through insect agency’ (Gentry 1875); CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
The nib or quill slip of a dip pen was secured to a holder or shaft. CD used Bramah pens while on the Beagle voyage (see Voyage, p. 252). No other mention of a specific type of pen has been found.
In his article ‘Diderot’ ([Morley] 1875), John Morley discussed the history and development of the encyclopaedia as well as the production of the Encyclopédie, whose principal editor was Denis Diderot (Diderot and Alembert eds. 1751–84).
A reprint of Descent 2d ed. (eleventh thousand) with corrections and text changes was printed in 1875 (Freeman 1977). William had not been on CD’s presentation list for Descent 2d ed. (Correspondence vol. 22, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Gentry, Thomas George. 1875. The fertilization of certain flowers through insect agency. American Naturalist 9: 263–7.

[Morley, John.] 1875. Diderot. Fortnightly Review 18 (1875): 353–98.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Voyage: Charles Darwin and the voyage of the Beagle. Edited by Nora Barlow. London: Pilot Press. 1945.


Sent a copy of Orchis book to Gentry. Mentions Morley’s article on Diderot. Asks for another copy of the new edition of Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Bank, Southampton
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 55)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10201G,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23