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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Phillips   29 November [1859]1

Ilkley Wells House | Otley Yorkshire

Nov. 29th

My dear Phillips

I did not expect that you would have so kindly answered my note.—2

I am ashamed to say that I have not (but hereafter will) read your two publications. I well remember putting down Malvern to study, but my list of unread books is rather long.3 I can only say as a sort of apology, that on some subjects I was forced to read enormously & to experimentise, as on breeding & the origin of domestic races. And the consumption of time was immense.

I sincerely regret for my own sake that I have overlooked your two works. I know it is a sin.

In great haste | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is established by the fact that CD was in Otley from 2 October to 7 December 1859 (Correspondence vol. 7, Appendix II).
Phillips’s letter has not been found; it was probably a reply to CD’s letter to Phillips of 26 November [1859] (Correspondence vol. 7), in which CD defended his arguments for natural selection. CD had expected Phillips’s response to Origin to be hostile (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to John Phillips, 11 November [1859] and n. 2).
The Malvern Hills compared with the Palæozoic districts of Abberley (Philips 1848) is listed in CD’s second reading notebook (DAR 128) in the ‘to be read’ section (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV). The second publication has not been identified.


Apologises for not having had time to read Phillips’ books.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Phillips
Sent from
Otley Yorkshire
Source of text
Duke University, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library (tipped in to the Phillips copy of Origin (QH365 .O1859 1859 8vo c.1))
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2560G,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)