skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To ?   23 October 1880

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

October 23 1880

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your courteous letter of Oct. 8th.—1 I have no difficulty in answering your questions; but I cannot see how my answers can be of interest to anyone.—

I was born on Feb. 12th. 1809.— On my return home after the voyage of the Beagle, I opened my first note-book for facts bearing on the origin of species in July 1837.2 In June 1842 I wrote a brief sketch of the notions then arrived at; & this was enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of 230 M.S. pages.3 The Origin of Species was published near the close of 1859.—

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


No letter to CD dated 8 October 1880 to which this might be a reply has been found.
CD’s ‘Notebook B’ is DAR 121; for a transcription, see Notebooks, pp. 167–236.
There are various rough drafts and fair copies of CD’s species sketches of 1842 and 1844 (see DAR 6: 1–14, 16–50 for the 1842 sketch and DAR 7 and DAR 113 for versions of the 1844 essay).


Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.


Answers correspondent’s questions on his birth date and when he began work on origin of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Jeremy Norman (dealer) (catalogue 69, item 15)
Physical description
ALS 2pp C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12771,” accessed on 28 September 2023,