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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Tord Tamerlan Teodor Thorell   20 April 1870

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

20 April 1870

[Darwin expresses heartfelt thanks to Tord Tamerlan Teodore Thorell, a junior professor of zoology at the University of Upsala, Sweden, for a copy of his On European Spiders.]1

I have looked through it & have admired the wonderful research & labour which you have bestowed on this highly useful work. It has been a great satisfaction to me to observe in one or two passages, especially in an admirable discussion on the principles of classification, that you believe in the evolution of species2


There is a lightly annotated copy of Thorell’s On European spiders (Thorell 1869–70) in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 806).
CD cited Thorell 1869–70 in Descent 1: 315 n. 71. In Thorell 1869–70, p. 42 n. 1, Thorell wrote, ‘I believe with darwin, “that propinquity of descent—the only known cause of similarity of organic beings—is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications”.’ The quotation is from Origin 4th ed., p. 489.


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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Thorell, Tord Tamerlan Teodor. 1869–70. On European spiders. Part I, Review of the European genera of spiders, preceded by some observations on zoological nomenclature. Upsala: Ed. Berling.


Thanks TTTT for his study of European spiders [On European spiders Part 1 (1869–70)] which bases its classification system on the theory of evolution.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Tord Tamerlau Teodor Thorell
Sent from
Source of text
Sotheby’s, New York (dealers) (1997)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7168A,” accessed on 27 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18