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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   2 December 1862

Jermyn St.

Dec 2nd | 1862

My dear Darwin

I send you by this post three of my working men’s Lectures—now in course of delivery1   As you will see by their prefatory notice I was asked to allow them to be taken down in shorthand for the use of the audience but I have no interest in them & do not desire or intend that they should be widely circulated2

Some time hence may be, I may revise & illustrate them—and make them into a book as a sort of popular exposition of your views—or at any rate of my version of your views3

There really is nothing new in them nor anything worth your attention—but if on glancing over them at any time you should see anything to object to—I should like to know—

I am very hard worked just now—six Lectures a week & no end of other things—but as vigorous as a three year old—4 Somebody told me you had been ill—but I hope it was fiction—and that you & Mrs Darwin5 and all your belongings are flourishing—

Ever | yours faithfully | T H Huxley


CD’s annotated copies of the six parts of T. H. Huxley 1862c (see n. 2, below) are in the Darwin Library–CUL. Beginning on Monday 10 November 1862, Huxley delivered a series of six weekly lectures to working men, with the title ‘On our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature’, at the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, London (L. Huxley 1900, 1: 206).
The publisher Robert Hardwicke had arranged with Huxley to publish the substance of his lectures from shorthand notes taken by J. Aldous Mays. The lectures were published in six parts (T. H. Huxley 1862c), the paper covers of each of which bore the announcement: The Publisher of these interesting Lectures having made an arrangement for their publication with Mr. J. A. Mays, the Reporter, begs to append the following Note from Professor Huxley:— “Mr. J. Aldous Mays, who is taking Shorthand Notes of my Lectures to Working Men, has asked me to allow him, on his own account, to print these Notes for the use of my audience. I willingly accede to this request, but as I have no leisure to revise the Lectures, or to make alterations in them, beyond the correction of any important error of fact, it must be clearly understood, that the Notes can be properly comprehended only by those who are acquainted with the context of the oral discourse.    T. H. HUXLEY.” The lectures were reissued in bound form the following year (T. H. Huxley 1863b), with the title on the publisher’s binding: ‘Huxley’s Lectures on Origin of Species’.
In the introduction to his lectures, Huxley stated that they were intended to present Origin ‘in a true light’ (T. H. Huxley 1862c, p. 5; see also letter from T. H. Huxley, 10 October [1862] and n. 3). Despite the fact that Huxley ‘more than once’ set about the task of revising these lectures (T. H. Huxley 1893–4, 2: vii), he did not do so, and they were reproduced, unaltered, in his Collected essays (T. H. Huxley 1893–4, 2: 303–474).
Huxley probably refers to his lectures as professor of natural history at the Government School of Mines, Jermyn Street, London (DSB); he gave fifty lectures there in the 1861–2 session (Medical directory 1862, p. 243).
Emma Darwin.


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.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1900. Life and letters of Thomas Henry Huxley. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Huxley, Thomas Henry. 1893–4. Collected essays. 9 vols. London: Macmillan.

Medical directory: The London medical directory … every physician, surgeon, and general practitioner resident in London. London: C. Mitchell. 1845. The London and provincial medical directory. London: John Churchill. 1848–60. The London & provincial medical directory, inclusive of the medical directory for Scotland, and the medical directory for Ireland, and general medical register. London: John Churchill. 1861–9. The medical directory … including the London and provincial medical directory, the medical directory for Scotland, the medical directory for Ireland. London: J. & A. Churchill. 1870–1905.

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.


Sends first three of his Lectures to working men [on our knowledge of the phenomena of organic nature (1863)]. Does not intend them to be widely circulated.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Jermyn St
Source of text
DAR 166.2: 296
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3841,” accessed on 18 April 2021,

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