skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Sophy Wedgwood   15 October [1880]1


Oct. 15th.

Dear Uncle Charles

I have been up on the common today after the worms.

I could not find anything in the middle of the heath, away from the paths, but there were some worm castings on the edge of the grass covered road, resti⁠⟨⁠ng⁠⟩⁠ on sprigs of heath, & in one case or more, with the sprays of heath pushed up through them.2 But there was grass or other plants all growing among the heath, in fact it is hardly pure anywhere.

I should have thought it a very unlikely place for worm casts, among a thick tangled mass, whether heath or not?

Also, from my experience, I shd hardly have expected to meet with any worms in that stony sand, (or in peat either.) unless in such a case as grass roots, weeds, in a gravel path. I dug a little among the heath, but found none, but this does not shew much, as I only in one case found any in digging the grass beneath actual wormcasts.

I don’t know whether Lucy has written to you, she went up one day, and found nothing particular I believe, and meant to have gone again, but had to go home rather suddenly on account of one of the children not being well.3 She could not remember what light she took, unless she has been able to tell you since—4 I am sorry to have written you such a long winded statement about so little.

As my mother has been able to write herself, I will not about anything else.5 I do hope aunt Emma is better.6 yr affect. niece KESW.7


The year is established by the reference to CD’s research on earthworms.
CD had asked Sophy Wedgwood to observe whether there were any wormcasts on the heath near her home at Leith Hill Place, Surrey (see letter to Sophy Wedgwood, 8 October [1880]).
No letter of this date from Lucy Caroline Harrison, Sophy’s sister, has been found. In 1880, Lucy had three children, Geoffrey Richard Harrison, Anne Dorothea Harrison, and Thomas Edmund Harrison.
Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, CD’s sister, had been ill at the start of October (see letter to T. H. Farrer, 1 October 1880 and n. 9).
Emma Darwin had been ill on 3 and 4 October 1880; she fell ill again from 9 to 13 October (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Sophy, although always known by this name, signed with the initials of her full name, Katherine Elizabeth Sophy Wedgwood.


On worms and worm-castings.

Letter details

Letter no.
Katherine Elizabeth Sophy (Sophy) Wedgwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Leith Hill Place
Source of text
DAR 181: 69
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12760,” accessed on 22 March 2023,