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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. R. Gray   [20 November – 11 December 1840]

12 Upper Gower St


My dear Sir

I have been obliged to defer from the state of my health, until to day, the pleasure of thanking you for your very obliging present of your volume of the Genera of Birds.1 It is a work, which cannot fail, I should think, of being very useful to ornithologists & indeed to describers in other branches of Natural History.

I trust now you have completed this work, you will oblige me by kindly finishing the remaining M.S. for the Birds of Beagles Voyage.— I had hoped before this to have finished that part, but I have of late been so frequently unwell that all my plans have disarranged.2

I shall esteem it a great favour should you be able to finish at once Gould’s M.S.3 & Believe me, | My dear Sir | with many thanks | Yours very truly | Chas. Darwin


Probably the first edition of Gray 1840. A second, corrected edition was published in 1841. The illustrated edition began to come out in 1844.
CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II) records that he returned to London on 14 November 1840; on 15 December he ‘Commenced last number of Birds for Zoology of Beagle’s Voyage.’ The final part of Birds was published in March 1841.
John Gould had left for Australia in 1838, leaving a part of Birds unfinished.


Birds: Pt 3 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By John Gould. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–41.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Gray, George Robert. 1840. A list of the genera of birds, with an indication of the typical species of each genus. London: Richard and John E. Taylor.


Thanks GRG for his gift [A list of the genera of birds (1840)] and trusts that now GRG will be able to finish John Gould’s MS for Zoology.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Robert Gray
Sent from
London, Upper Gower St, 12
Source of text
The British Library (Egerton MS 2348: 237–8)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 581,” accessed on 30 September 2022,

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