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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood   18 [August 1856 – January 1858]1


Monday 18th—.

My dear Fanny.

I am much pleased & flattered at Mr. Gregs proposal,2 I should have liked to have tryed my hand at Reviewing but I have so many years work in prospect in my present book on species & varieties, that I am not willing to give up my time to any other occupation— I should think Reviewing if one did it heart & soul,3 would be particularly interesting but I have the greatest doubt whether I should succeed, but for the future I shall vote myself quite capable & worth £15 per sheet; already I stand wonderfully higher in all the children’s estimation—

You will be very sorry to hear how much illness we have here at present.4

Yours very affectionately. | C. Darwin.


CD’s reference to having ‘so many years work in prospect’ indicates that he had only recently begun work on his species book (Natural selection). He began writing in May 1856. ‘Monday 18th—.’ occurred in August 1856, May 1857, and January 1858. The next possible Monday fell in October 1858, but it is unlikely that the letter was written then because CD was at that time working on Origin.
The copy reads “Grey”, but was corrected to “Greg” by Francis Darwin. William Rathbone Greg, a prominent contributor to the Edinburgh Review and the Quarterly Review, carried considerable influence with the editors of both periodicals. In 1855 he had also briefly been editor of a new Unitarian periodical, the National Review, but he resigned before publication began in 1856 (Wellesley index 3: 135). Hensleigh and Fanny Wedgwood were active in London’s Unitarian circles; Hensleigh Wedgwood also occasionally reviewed books for the Quarterly Review.
Francis Darwin corrected the copyist’s ‘sould’ to read ‘soul’.
It has not been possible to identify the specific illnesses to which CD refers. In August 1856 Henrietta Darwin was ill, and Emma Darwin recorded in her diary on 25 August that CD took Henrietta to consult Benjamin Collins Brodie.


Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

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.

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


Is flattered by a proposal that he undertake some reviewing work, but has many years’ work in prospect on his present book on species and varieties.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Frances Emma Elizabeth (Fanny) Mackintosh/Frances Emma Elizabeth (Fanny) Wedgwood
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 303
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1810,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6