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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albert Günther   23 March [1868]1

4 Chester Place | Regents Park | N. W.

March 23d

Dear Günther

Will you be so kind as to give the enclosed slip to Mr Ford, as I forgot to give it.2

I have been thinking of your case of the banded snake; & though I do not want the fact at present, it is so good that I shd. like to secure it.—3

What is name of snake? Do the longitudinal bands become interrupted & pass into transverse bands in the vars. of the same species, or in allied species?

In the same genus or in closely allied genera, are some species always longitudinally & other species always transversely banded?

I shd. be grateful for an answer at any time.—

Yours very truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the address. CD stayed at 4 Chester Place, the home of Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood, from 11 March until 1 April 1868 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)).
The enclosure has not been found. George Henry Ford, an animal artist employed at the British Museum, made the illustrations of secondary sexual characters of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles for Descent (Gunther 1972, p. 140). CD had probably visited the museum that day (notes on siluroid fish headed ‘B. Mus. Mar 23.’ are in DAR 82: B13).
In Descent 2: 29, CD cited Günther for information on the black bands of male English vipers (Vipera berus).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Gunther, Albert E. 1972. The original drawings of George Henry Ford. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 6 (1971–4): 139–42.


Asks AG for details of variation in patterning of the banded snake.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Sent from
London, Chester Place, 4
Source of text
Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6043,” accessed on 14 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16