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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Fanny Owen    [26 October 1828]


Dear Charles—

I assure you I should not have allow’d your long and insinivating dispatch to remain so long unanswer’d, but really have lately had such a great press of business, and my keeper been so active in stirring me up to my painting & keeping me there that I have hardly had a moment to myself— I wish you had been here last night for we went to the Play at Oswestry & had very good fun, it was quite a miracle that we persuaded Papa to let us go knowing his antipathy to that kind of hinnocent amusement, but the wonder ceased when we found that the gay, dashing handsome, dissipated General Despard1 was the only shootable in the Play House — We went six inside the family Van, your two sisters, Mrs. Parker who is very corpulent and we three only fancy what a suffocation! I really thought some valuable lives would have been lost for the Black hole at Calcutta must have been a fool2 to it—but happily all escaped uninjured, and very good fun and plenty of laughing we had—but it is brutal to tell you all this— I hear you have been paying a domestic visit at Overton. Why did you not drop in here on your way? Owen I find has written to try to bribe you here on Monday. I’m sorry to say I shan’t see you if you come for we are all going tomorrow to Erthig for the Birthday at Wynnstay—3 The purpose of this note I find I have completely forgotten, but better late than never, it was to tell you how very much oblig’d to you I was for the Books, and also the Swallow tail which has absolutely astounded my weak mind, there is something about it so werry pecoolier My poor screens have been quite put by this week. Papa keeps me hard at work at that odious picture but I’ll have my revenge for I’ll be paid well for it. I wont pass the best part of my life in a dirty cheese room for nothing. No! No!

I have not rode since I saw you, but have nobody to ride with so no wonder!! A quiet life I have now and that is something pleasant and what I have not been used to for some time past The Williams (I believe about a dozen of them) are coming here next week, and the week after we are going to Eaton so I think we shall be beWilliams’d — I wish I had any thing to tell you either in the shape of gossip or mystery to fill this sheet, but I am as stupid as L.K.4 ever could be & have not one bright idea to tell you— Not one game of Billiards have I had since I play’d with you. I can get nobody to play with & am a⁠⟨⁠fr⁠⟩⁠aid for want of practice shall forget all my fine strokesBurn this as soon as you have made out the nonsense, remember it is a four instead of a three corner’d note so must serve for a long time

Bilieve me in haste yrs truly an “Unbelieving Jew” *S 2

Paradise Row

1/2 past 12— Saturday night


John Despard, who was 83 years old in 1828.
‘to be as nothing compared to’ (OED).
Wynnstay was the estate of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, near Llangollen, Clwyd. Erddig was the large estate of the Yorke family in nearby Wrexham. Both are now National Trust properties.
Possibly Lloyd Kenyon, 1804–36 (see letters from Sarah Owen, 18 February [1828] and from Fanny Owen, [9 March 1828]).


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Woodhouse news, including going to a play.

She has been spending much time painting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Frances (Fanny) Mostyn Owen/Frances (Fanny) Myddelton Biddulph
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Paradise Row, Woodhouse
Shrewsbury OC 26 1828 153
Source of text
Physical description
AL 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 51,” accessed on 28 January 2022,

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