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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Walter Elliot   3 August [1869]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Aug. 3d

My dear Sir

Your former great kindness in giving me valuable information, makes me think that you will, if in your power, answer me a question.2

I want to know what mammals are polygamous, & I cannot find any statement about the wild Boar in Europe. In India do you happen to know whether during the breeding season, the Boar is accompanied by two or more sows?3

I hope that you will excuse me for troubling you & believe me | My dear Sir | Yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Walter Elliot, 7 August 1869.
CD cited Elliot a number of times in Variation for providing him with information on horses and poultry in India. Their last known correspondence was in 1858; see Correspondence vol. 7.
Elliot resided in India from 1820 until his return to England in 1860 (ODNB). CD was researching polygamy in relation to sexual selection, and cited Elliot for information on polygamy in boars in India in Descent 1: 267.


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.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Asks whether the wild boar in India is polygamous.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Walter Elliot
Sent from
Source of text
John Hay Library, Brown University
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6849,” accessed on 24 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17