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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Emma Wedgwood   [29 December 1838]

[36 Great Marlborough Street]

Saturday Afternoon

My dear Emma

I am tired with having been all day at Business work,—but I cannot let a post go by, without writing to tell you Gower St is ours, yellow curtains & all.—1 I have to day paid some advance money, signed an agreement & had the Key given over to me & the old woman informed I was her master henceforth. The minute I put the whole affair into the Solicitors hands, he arranged all the difficulties, about Colonel Irvine’s absence & made the Agent come to terms directly.— I am delighted with the house, the more I see of it; I have just been going over all the furniture with the inventory.— We shall not have much to buy,—even the crockery & glasses are very perfect.—

I am also delighted to say that the Solicitor, (having some minutes to spare) looked at the furniture of the rooms & he said he had just been furnishing his own house with care & knew the prices of things, & he maintains the furniture is cheap at 550£ & the rent extraordinarily low— He examined all the tables & chairs & said they are made of excellent wood & must have cost a great deal of money.— In fact I am convinced we have been most fort⁠⟨⁠unat⁠⟩⁠e & I am in great triump at having come to so good an end.— Mr Stewart, (my present landlord) says he will let me off part of the hire of my lodgings, if I choose to move soon, & as I want a little diversion of body & mind, I think, it very likely I shall begin moving all my sundry rattle -traps on Monday.—

I long for the day when we shall enter the house together; how glorious it will be to see you seated by the fire of our own house— Oh that it were the 14th instead of the 24th .—2

Goodbye, my own dear Emma | Most affectionately yours.— Chas. Darwin

The Cook from Shrewsbury is a failure as she cannot cook, & has a drunken husband. I am fearful of getting a converted Jewess from Miss Farrer; but we will hope for the best— I am going to have an interview with Margaret tomorrow to see how her health is, I wish the other maid from Cambridgeshire was arrived to institute a comparison about their merits.—

I was thinking of calling on Miss Martineau to enquire whether she knew anything of a Cook.—

I find I must wait in town till the latter end of next week, on account of the lease & paying the money.—& I suspect I must attend the Geolog Soc on the 9th. so my plans are hampered— But what does anything signify to the possessor of Macaw Cottage?3


For a description of Gower Street and its environs at the time, see Freeman 1982.
From the letter from Emma Wedgwood, [7 January 1839], it is clear that the marriage of CD and Emma was originally to take place on 24 January, but the date was changed to 29 January.
Macaw Cottage—so called because of the gaudy colours of the walls and furniture (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 18). The house was badly damaged by bombs during a World War II air raid. The site is now occupied by a part of the University of London.


Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1982. Darwin and Gower Street. An exhibition in the Flaxman Gallery of the Library, University College London, Monday 19 April 1982. London: University College London.


The house at 12 Upper Gower Street is theirs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
DAR 210.8: 8
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 463,” accessed on 27 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2