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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Wright   24 August 1867

St. Margarets Terrace | Cheltenham

24 Aug 67

Dear Mr Darwin

I have much pleasure in sending you by this post a copy of my paper on corals reefs present & past.1 to so great a master on this subject as yourself I can offer little that is new. For the more I peruse your valued work on Coral islands2 the more deeply do I become impressed with the most profound respect for its accomplished author. Still I thought the observations I had made on ancient reefs especially those in the Oolitic rocks might interest you and the inference I have drawn from your theory of subsidence may hold true of the bed of the Jurassic ocean.3 at all events it is a new explanation of the formation of the Oolitic strata and when we reflect on the enormous lapse of time that must have taken place to allow so many different forms of polyp life to appear and depart, as shewn by our tables, we have no difficulty in understanding how a slow subsidence of the bed of the Jurassic ocean would have allowed all those tropical forms which the Oolites contain to come in and go out ere the Jurassic drop scene fell. I should like to have your thoughts on this point. I was very sorry to learn some time since that you were far from well   I hope this fine genial season has restored you to health and with my very best wishes for your health & happiness

believe me always | Yours most truly | Thomas Wright

C. Darwin Esq FR.S | &c. &c &c.


Wright sent an offprint of his article, T. Wright 1866. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
The reference is to Coral reefs.
In his paper, Wright summarised CD’s theory of the formation of coral reefs (T. Wright 1866, pp. 112–18). In the section on oolitic corals, Wright concluded that the bed of the Jurassic sea was a slowly subsiding area of great extent, similar to parts of the present-day coral sea in the Indo-Pacific Ocean (ibid., p. 159).


Wright, Thomas. 1866a. On coral reefs present and past. [Read 13 June 1866.] Proceedings of the Cotteswold Naturalists’ Field Club 4 (1866–8): 97–173


Discusses coral reefs and sends CD his paper on "Coral reefs present and past" [Cotteswold Club Proc. 4 (1868): 60–74].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Wright
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 179
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5616,” accessed on 5 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15