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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   18 March 1878

Royal Gardens Kew

March 18/78

Dear Darwin

Mrs Lyell has been consulting me confidentially as to what is best done with Sir Chas: correspondence, & I have her permission to ask what you think—& if you would kindly help her with an opinion.1

I have read a great many of the letters, to Horner2 & others, & am greatly taken with them— they are so full of matter, so pleasant, lucid, & tell so much of his unwearied labors & of the progress of Geology during it’s comparative infancy— Then too they are full of kindly feeling to, & ready recognition of the labors of, others— They are full of local coloring as regards the places (often very obscure) that he visited for the purpose of verifying statements & collecting facts, & full of little notices of admirable local Collectors & Museums that are worthy of being remembered.

Mrs Lyell has a mind to put all in print for private distribution, after revision & cutting out all passages that could hurt anyone (of which I have seen no trace)—& afterwards publish a selection as a contribution to his life. My idea is that the number will prove too great for printing, but this must depend on their value. I suggested her picking out a dozen by chance (without looking at them) of the bundle I have perused & sending them to you for your opinion as to their value to Science.— I am a partial witness I know & so would you be, but that must be taken into account.

Mrs Lyell has riches & is devoted to Lyells memory, & if good can be done by the printing now is the time.

Ever affy yrs | Jos D Hooker

The value of the work would be, 1. the history it is of the progress of Geology. 2. the evidence of the care with which Lyell sifted facts & evidence. & the interest attached to the facts.


Charles Lyell had died in 1875. An edition of his letters and journals was eventually published in two volumes by his sister-in-law, Katharine Murray Lyell (Lyell ed. 1881).


Has been consulting with Mrs Lyell about the possibility of publishing Lyell’s letters. Asks CD’s opinion on the matter.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 107–8
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11431,” accessed on 31 January 2023,