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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Henslow1   12 November 1855

Down Bromley Kent.


My Dear Henslow

If you can obtain me accurate information on the following point from any celebrated grower of Hollyock, such as Mr Chator of Saffron Walden, I shd. be extremely much obliged. The Hollyock, under several points of view, in regard to my subject of “Variation” seem to offer puzzling & curious facts.

Yours most truly | Charles Darwin

Do any or many varieties of Hollyock come true from seed. as has been stated by Dean Herbert, Kolreuter & Gærtner?2 —and what kinds come true?

If they do come true, must the parent-plants be separated, so as to prevent crossing by Bees.—

When they have not come true, have the parent-plants stood near each other.—

Have any careful attempts been made to cross Hollyocks.; namely by removing the anthers & [protecting] the flowers.—; & if so do the colours of the hybrids generally come intermediate? in some of the experiments by Kolreuter the crossed flowers did not come intermediate in tints.— Nov 12 /55/


A draft of the enclosure referred to in the letter to J. S. Henslow, 10 November [1855]. The draft of the letter is on the recto and the questions are on the verso of the same sheet. Preceding the first question, CD has added, with a caret, a circled ‘a’, possibly referring to another question he wished to insert when the fair copy of the questions was made.
William Herbert, Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter, and Karl Friedrich von Gärtner are frequently quoted in Natural selection, Origin, and Variation on the subject of hybridism. Growing stable strains of hollyhock from seed is discussed in Variation 2: 107–8. CD reported his own experiments and cited information from Herbert and several nurserymen, but William Chater is not mentioned.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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


Draft of queries on the varieties of hollyhocks. [To be transmitted to William Chater by JSH; probably enclosed with 1778.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Stevens Henslow
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 206: 39
Physical description
ADraftS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1779,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

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