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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Worthington George Smith   4 November 1870

12 Northgrove West | Mildmay Park | London N.

4 Nov. 1870

Dear Sir,

I venture to send you the follo⁠⟨⁠wing⁠⟩⁠ note, thinking it may have some interest for you in connexion with your works.—1 I have never read of anything precisely like it

I have a fair complexion & light hair, with very dark eyes & I am married ⁠⟨⁠to a⁠⟩⁠ wife2 with dark complexion dark hair & light eyes—

We have three children   they all resemble me in having the fair complexion with very light hair; & the mother only, in all having very light eyes

The following is the curious point which strikes me as being somewhat new.

The children all have an abundance of very light hair, but on very close examination I find about 1 hair in 100 (or perhaps, 500) is almost jet black, the black hairs always ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ singly & are [irregularly] distributed [12 line illeg] has per [12 line illeg] of course they cannot be seen unless seached for, we recently saw one by accident & on searching found the others growing “sporadically” as I have stated.

It is quite different from the colored pate⁠⟨⁠  ⁠⟩⁠ sometimes seen.

Apologizing for troubling you, with what is perhaps only a piece of absurdity on my part, I remain

Yours faithfully | Worthington G. Smith | F.L.S. &c

CD annotations

1.1 I venture … like it 1.2] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Inheritance | (not blending) | Black & white Hairs’ pencil


CD had discussed inheritance of differently coloured locks of hair in humans in Variation 2: 5–6.


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


Describes his children, who all seem to have inherited both dark hairs from their mother and light hairs from WGS with the latter greatly outnumbering the former.

Letter details

Letter no.
Worthington George Smith
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, North Grove West, 12
Source of text
DAR 177: 200
Physical description
ALS 3pp damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7358,” accessed on 20 April 2024,

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