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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Howard Darwin   [28 November 1856]1

[Clapham Grammar School]

Friday. | morning.

You must excuse bad writing in this page because I had an abominable quill pen

My dear Papa

You need not have sent me to School Yesterday because today Mr. P Says I am to stop up in the sick room all day.2 Last night I left all my goodies in the sick room so I thought of course they would all be safe but this morning low and behold they are all gone except some ginger Bread and a little bit of cake. They took the letter into Mr. P. last night.

I like the Book I am reading now now very much   it is called Ben Sylvester’s word,3 it is all about robbers & murdering that is to say a good deal about them. When once I get in steady work again, the time will soon fly. We have no chapel now and on Sunday some boys are going to Westminster Abbey and goodness knows where, all sorts of Churchs. Mrs. Morrey gave me a great peice of Toffey and I never eat a bit of it myself, and I only had one peice of ginger Bread.4 I forgot both the pencills and the nibbs for my pens, so I shall have to buy some. I forgot to put to put away my painting things so I must tell you where to put them.

Pencil in pencil case in box

compass in compass case in ditto

pen and nibbs ditto

gold paint ditto

paintbox in the setting board cupboard on the middle shelf that is just below the setting boards.

pallate ditto

mug ditto

painting hankerchief ditto.


I expect you have put my things in the wrong places but now you will be able to put them right. I wish I had stoped.

Unfortunately I could not get an inside place in an omnibus so I had a cold drive. I got up this morning with a bit of a headache but it soon went of.

The first bit of time will pass awfully slow. I have begun those thick trowsers, so I dont know what to say about flannel draws   Mama will settle that   I hope shall come to London to meet H. Hemmings.5 I suppose Brooks came home very late last night.6 Will you or Mama write to me very soon

Good bye   I remain | your affec son | G H Darwin

Nucklebones come from sheep’s ankles   I suppose all four legs   I have no pen


The date is established by the fact that George, aged 11, started attending Clapham Grammar School in August 1856 (J. R. Moore 1977, p. 54), by the reference to Mrs Morrey, who left Down at the end of 1856 (see n. 4, below), and by references in Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242). The only Thursday in 1856 on which Emma recorded in her diary George’s returning to school was 27 November.
The reference is to Charles Pritchard, headmaster of Clapham Grammar School (DNB). George had been ill while at home: for 25 November 1856 Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) records, ‘G. very poorly’.
Yonge 1856.
Sarah Morrey had been cook to Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood, CD’s and Emma’s aunt, who had died 6 November 1856 (Freeman 1978). The Darwin children, except for William, had visited Sarah’s former home in Down, Petleys, on 22 November for a farewell tea party with the servants, of whom they were fond (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. E. Darwin, 25 [November 1856]). Henrietta Emma Darwin later wrote, ‘Mrs Morrey’s gingerbread was like no other we have ever tasted before or since’ (Emma Darwin (1915), 2: 106). Petleys was auctioned and the servants departed in mid-December 1856 (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. E. Darwin, 25 [November 1856]).
Henry Hemmings had been a servant of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood (Freeman 1978). After Sarah’s death he moved to Staffordshire, where he remained in contact with the Darwins and Wedgwoods. In the letter to W. E. Darwin, 10 [December 1856] (Correspondence vol. 6), CD wrote that Hemmings would be in London in the latter part of December. In a letter probably written on 17 December 1856, George wrote to William that he had met Hemmings unexpectedly that day, presumably in Clapham, and added: ‘On Monday I am going to London & on Tuesday you will come & I beleive you are to stop a night or two and there will be Hemmings who I know you will be glad enough to see & we will have plenty of larks and skramages with H.H.’ (DAR 210.6: 13).
William Brooks was a servant at Down (F. Darwin 1920); he may have driven George to meet the omnibus. George’s departure had been delayed for an hour by a nose-bleed (letter from Emma Darwin to W. E. Darwin, [1 December 1856], DAR 219.1: 13).


Letter from school with instructions where to put away his belongings at home.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Howard Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 251: 2222
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2003F,” accessed on 17 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)