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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [6 November 1854]1

from Disco Island;2 they are fine things & evidently Tertiary but I have no idea of their genera: they appear quite ordinary large Dicot: leaves like Maples &c. I will bring them to Phil. Club next night of meeting:3 they are said to overlie the Disco Coal. I am told that fossil pine cones were found much further North, & am to have some.

Lyall has brought home beautiful dried Collections, carefully labelled, from the various Islands, & many from Greenland4 I am going to begin working out the Bot. Geogr. of the Polar Sea5 & may be led on southwards to the great Continents, if I can plan a good scheme of operations. My beginnings are certainly small.

I have not forgotten the aberrants.6 Bentham returned today,7

I have taken a house on top of Richmond hill.8

I thought you were to be in Town this week or should not have dreamt of your coming to Linn Soc.9

Ever dr Darwin Yr | J D Hooker Kew Monday

CD annotations

crossed pencil
‘Bentham thank Barrande & Forbes—’ added pencil; ‘Comfort. Place’10 added pencil, del pencil
Top of page: ‘Fossil leaves’pencil; ‘Nov. 54’ pencil; circled pencil


Disko Island, off the west coast of Greenland in Davis Strait.
Hooker exhibited the leaves at the meeting of the Philosophical Club on 23 November 1854 (Bonney 1919, p. 126). The Arctic fossils had been collected on Frederick William Beechey’s expedition to Disko Island and were of interest as evidence of a much warmer climate in the Tertiary period.
J. D. Hooker 1857 and 1862.
George Bentham. When Bentham presented his botanical collection and his library to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, William Jackson Hooker offered him working space and asked him to collaborate on descriptions of colonial floras at Kew (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 167 n. 1).
Hooker moved to 3 Montague Villas, Richmond Hill, in December 1854 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 352).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary and CD’s Health diary (Down House MS), CD and Emma were in London from 2 to 4 November. They had to return home by 6 November in order to receive visitors at Down House (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 November [1854], n. 5).
Joachim Barrande and Edward Forbes. Joseph Comfort was a gardener at Down House for whom CD was seeking a place at Kew (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 November [1854]).


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.


Fossil leaves from Disko Island.

JDH to begin working out the botanical geography of the polar sea.

Has not forgotten CD’s request on aberrant species.

Has taken a house on Richmond Hill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.9: 385
Physical description
ALS 2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1600,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5