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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Fanny Owen    [9 March 1828]

The Forest


Dear Charles—

I tremble at having the boldness to begin a letter to you after having allowd your last long effusion to remain such a time unanswer’d, but as I believe I have told you before I cannot & will not play second fiddle & as Sarah wrote to you very soon after we came home I thought I had better delay doing so till now — not that I have collected a bit of news or gossip to tell you don’t expect such an article for you will be disappointed. I am more stupid than any body ever was before or I should hope ever will be again—not a whisper, not the ghost of a mystery have I worth retailing— The only time we have been out since our return was last week to Tommy Hunts1 quite brilliant festivities. Sarah Owen & yr. humble servant were there for two days, tolerably good fun considering it was at the Prêtre’s, and Lloyd Kenyon the Hero of the fête, it being a sort of farewell Rigadoon before that interesting youth join’d his regiment which he did a few days ago to our unspeakable dispair —for Oh! how he used to come and sit and eat and sit till we thought he must have grown to his chair

We have tried in vain to get your sisters here—for a little larking & scandal but as I suppose you know the Wedgewoods have been there for a long time thank heaven’s they go next week and Caroline & Catherine have promis’d to ride over to pay us a visit— I wish you were to be of the party but “brighter hours will come” and I look forward to yr paying us a long visit in yr. next vacation— I am schocked to inform you that I have not yet learn’t to play at Billiards, I hear you exclaim what a lazy creature, but it is not my fault I assure you, for I can get nobody to give me some lesson’s, Owen votes it a fat bore —so I suppose I must trust to fate for a master or wait till you come — I have not been riding near so much as I wish, for we have only the Andalusian for the whole Family, which is really too bad, and puts me in a d——l of a temper, the Governor is going to buy another but cannot find one shootable about here, I hope he will soon or I shall get furious

William Hill is the only visitor we have had, he has been here almost ever since we came home, but departed this morning per Coach to London on his road to Paris and Italy happy fellow!!— The Assizes are on the 20th. and we expect a visitation from that insinivating Counsellor Mr. Alexander.2 There is going to be a grand feast at Tedsmore3 on Thursday where we are going, the old Piebald (as Mrs. B. O is now christen’d) is I think grown more hideous than ever.— one evening at Tom Hunts we danc’d, & Owen waltzed with her which was so ridiculous we could not help laughing outright, & Mr. Kynaston behaved so ill that he really did all he could to knock down the poor old Piebald by running against her as if by accident, till at last her little Husband found it out and was very indignant

I hope you like Cambridge pray tell me all about it & when you expect to come home—

I must conclude for I find myself getting awfully dull and prosy, but what can you expect from an unfortunate exile of the Forest pity and forgive is all I ask—& believe me my dr. Postillion ever yr faithfull Housemaid | Fanny O—

For Heaven’s sake burn this, or if it falls into the hands of any of the young men, what would they think, of a Housemaid writing to Mr Charles Darwin— Ma’m Burton would die of it I think


Possibly Thomas Hunt, Rector of Wentnor and West Felton, Shropshire.
Tedsmore, about 2 miles south of Woodhouse, the home of Thomas Bulkeley Bulkeley Owen (Bagshaw 1851, p. 205).


Bagshaw, Samuel. 1851. History, gazetteer, and directory of Shropshire. Sheffield.


Went recently to Tommy Hunt’s festivities before Lloyd Kenyon joined his regiment.

Hopes Caroline and Catherine Darwin will visit in a week.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances (Fanny) Mostyn Owen/Frances (Fanny) Myddelton Biddulph
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
The Forest, [Woodhouse]
Shrewsbury MA 11 1828 153
Source of text
DAR 204: 44
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 40,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 1