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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   21 [July 1858]

King’s Head Hotel | Sandown | I. of W.


My dear Fox

As you said you would like to hear how we were going on, I write to say thatwe are all very fairly well, & after some house-hunting are settled here till next Tuesday when we go to Norfolk House Shanklin, where there is a single row of Houses on the Beach. This place has evidently sprung up like a mushroom; & there are three hotels & many villas. Years ago you took me across the isld. & I have a great notion that the solitary sandy bay which I then saw must this be place.—1 It suits us very fairly & the little Boys are very happy.

We have just heard of my sisters Marianne Parker’s death,—a blessed relief after long continued & latterly very severe suffering.2 She was an admirable woman, & I thank God is at rest. We are all here, but my eldest son starts in a week’s time abroad, for a little tour before going to old Christ College.—3

After all, I am now beginning to prepare an abstract of my Species Theory. By an odd coincidence, Mr Wallace in the Malay Archipelago sent to me an Essay containing my exact theory; & asking me to show it to Lyell. The latter & Hooker have taken on themselves to publish it in Linnean Journal, together some notes of mine written very many years ago; & both of them have urged me so strongly to publish a fuller abstract, that I have resolved to do it, & shall do nothing till completed: it will be published, probably, in Journal of Linn. Socy. & I shall have separate copies & will send you one.— It is impossible in abstract to do justice to subject.—

There has been another child die in village of Down; which makes the fifth; so we rejoice we acted on your advice & left home.— We shall stay here to middle of August.—

With very sincere thanks for all your most kind sympathy. | My dear Fox | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

Dr. Lane has his house full, I am glad to say.4


According to the Post Office directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire 1859: Sandown, a few years ago, was nothing more than a small village; however, the beauty of its site and its enchanting prospects attracted the notice of the speculator and builder; in consequence, its entire scene is as it were completely changed, and instead of the fisherman’s hut and peasant’s cot, numerous tasteful villas and mansions greet the eye in every direction.
CD’s eldest sister, Marianne Parker, died on 18 July 1858. She was 60 years old.
CD and Fox had been fellow undergraduates at Christ’s College, Cambridge (Correspondence vol. 1). William Erasmus Darwin was due to begin his studies at Christ’s College in October 1858.
CD had feared that the scandalous nature of the charges made against Edward Wickstead Lane would damage the reputation of his hydropathic establishment at Moor Park. See letter to W. D. Fox, 24 June [1858].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


After all, CD is now beginning to prepare an abstract of his species theory. Recounts the events leading to joint paper with A. R. Wallace at Linnean Society. Lyell and Hooker urge strongly that he publish a fuller abstract. It is impossible to do justice to subject in an abstract.

His sister, Marianne Parker, has died.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 118)
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2312,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7