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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Obadiah Westwood   14 May 1862

University Museum | Oxford

14 May 1862

My dear Sir

Thankyou very much for a Copy of your highly interesting book which arrived this morning1

I have only had time just to dip into it but I do not see any other bees or humble bees recorded as having been observed with pollen except those I sent you—2 It will therefore perhaps interest you to learn that yesterday I captured on the alighting board of one of my hives, a bee with the front of its head invested with a large patch of pollen masses, 8 or 10,— Another bee had seized hold of this one & was trying to drag & fly away with it from the hive as an obnoxious individual. I intended to have sent it off to you alive but it died in the Course of the day   So I put it into Spirits   If you like to look at it I shall be most happy to send it to you for your Examination

But if I have not had time to devour your book my wife3 has & she says she now quite understands the structure of the pollen &c. of the Orchids which she has in vain tried to do in Lindleys different books—4

Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very truly | Jno O Westwood

This letter was misdirected to Down Hatherley5 & has been rambling about England for the last fortnight | J.O.W.


Westwood’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV). Among others, CD sent presentation copies to those who, like Westwood, had assisted him with his study (see n. 2, below).
Westwood had sent CD bees with orchid pollen-masses attached to them in July 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8, letters to J. O. Westwood, 25 June [1860] and 9 July [1860]). CD wrote to Westwood again in 1861 requesting specimens of moths with orchid pollinia attached; Westwood sent him some wasps, but the pollinia were found not to be from orchids (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. O. Westwood, 15 August [1861] and 4 September [1861]). Westwood’s assistance is acknowledged in Orchids, p. 35.
John Lindley was the leading authority on the classification of orchids, and published three major books on the family, which constituted his chief botanical speciality. Lindley was, however, a prolific author, and he also wrote a number of introductory and reference works on botany, most of which passed through many editions (see DSB and Taxonomic literature).
Down Hatherley is a village near Gloucester.


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

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

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.

Taxonomic literature: Taxonomic literature. A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types. By Frans A. Stafleu and Richard S. Cowan. 2d edition. 7 vols. Utrecht, Netherlands: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema. The Hague, Netherlands: W. Junk. 1976–88.


Thanks for Orchids.

Has captured a bee with pollinia adhering to its head. Will send it to CD if he likes.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Obadiah Westwood
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
University Museum, Oxford
Source of text
DAR 181: 90
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3547,” accessed on 3 June 2023,

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