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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George King   19 September 1876

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

Sep. 19. 76

My dear Sir,

I thank you for your kindness in thinking of me about the pigeons. I shall be glad to see them, & formerly they would have been worth their weight in gold to me, but I am not likely to work again on the subject. When I hear from Dr. Scully I will write to him & if he does not object present the specimens to the Brit. Museum, which very properly began some time ago to make a collection of domestic varieties.1

I have never yet found time to use the information which you kindly gave me about Earthworms, but I hope to do so in about a year’s time.2

With many thanks, | Yours sincerely | Charles Darwin


King had evidently offered CD a box of pigeon skins collected by John Scully (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 October 1876). CD had made extensive studies of variation in domestic fancy pigeons for Variation (for more on CD’s work on pigeons, see J. A. Secord 1981). No correspondence between CD and Scully has been found. The collection of pigeon skins has not been identified, but Scully did later donate a collection of 29 skins collected in Yarkand, China; the collection is in the Museum of Natural History at Tring (BMNH 1883.6.6.1-29).
King had sent CD worm-castings from South India in 1872 and from the south of France in 1873 (see Correspondence vols. 20 and 21). CD cited King in Earthworms, pp. 5 and passim; the book was published in 1881.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Secord, James Andrew. 1981. Nature’s fancy: Charles Darwin and the breeding of pigeons. Isis 72: 162–86.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Would like to see the pigeons, though he is not likely to work on the subject again. When he hears from Dr Scully, he will present them to the British Museum.

Has not had time to use the information about earthworms yet, but hopes to use it in about a year’s time.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George King
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 112
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10610F,” accessed on 16 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24