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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Dorothy Frances Nevill   [before 22 January 1862]1

Dangstein | Petersfield

My dear Sir

I have been a long time meditating whether I dared write and make the request I am about to do—but even if you cannot grant I hope you will take it as a compliment rather than in 〈any〉 other light— I am so gratified at having made your acquaintance2 altho 〈    〉 on paper 〈    〉 〈w〉ould so like if it were 〈po〉ssible that you would give me a photo or lithograph or any other portrait of yourself to hang up in my own sitting room   Sir William Hooker3 and many more have done so and it is such a pleasure to have near me the resemblance of friends to whom I am indebted for so many pleasant hours—in reading their works and listening to their conversation— Do comply with my request if you possibly can—4 If I could I would buy one but to me that would be of no value unless it came from you and with your autograph— I shall enclose with this a list of orchids now in bloom that you may see whether you want any5   We have 2 splendid Stangeria Paradoxa now in blossom one the fruitful one the barren flower   What a curious bulbous plant it is— Do you believe it is a Cycadaceous Palm of the same species as Dion Edule—6 I hope I have not exposed my ignorance in making these remarks—but I am so fond of all kinds of Botany and natural history that I fear I undertake too many things to do anything well— I only wish for an unframed photo or lithograph   however bad I shall be most grateful for it

Yrs most truly | Dorothy Nevill

I am so interested in the account of your pigeons in your book7

Do you live ne〈ar〉 to Sydneys 〈    〉8


Dated by the relationship to the letter to D. F. Nevill, 22 January [1862].
Nevill grew orchids, pitcher plants, and other exotic species in her garden at Dangstein in Essex, and CD had asked her to assist him in procuring exotic varieties of orchids (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to D. F. Nevill, 12 November [1861] and 19 November [1861]). He acknowledged her assistance in Orchids, p. 158.
William Jackson Hooker
The enclosure has not been found.
Cycadaceous plants were known to be dioecious (i.e., to bear male or female reproductive structures on different plants). See Lindley 1853, p. 223. According to Loudon 1850, p. 537, Dion edule had been cultivated in Britain since 1843; Stangeria paradoxa, which is not mentioned in Loudon 1850, was apparently a more recent introduction.
An extensive account of pigeon varieties and their descent from the rock pigeon appeared in Origin, pp. 20–9.
The reference may be to John Robert Townshend, third Viscount Sydney, whose principal residence, Frognal, was about five miles from Down at Foots Cray, Kent (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

Loudon, John Claudius. 1850. Loudon’s hortus Britannicus. A catalogue of all the plants indigenous, cultivated in, or introduced to Britain. New ed. London.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

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.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.


Will enclose list of orchids in bloom for CD’s use.

Asks for photograph; her pleasure in knowing CD.

Most interested in the account of pigeons in CD’s book [Origin].

Letter details

Letter no.
Dorothy Fanny Nevill
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Dangstein, Petersfield
Source of text
DAR 172: 27
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3402,” accessed on 25 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10