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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. E. Darwin   [19 February 1871]1



My dear Father,

I recd “Man” this morning and am very glad to receive him.2 I shall very soon gobble him up.

It is a very neatly got up book, and I like the plain white edges. Please keep all reviews and letters about it till I have seen them. The Reviews will be fine fun no doubt.3

Please ask Mother to send me a 12d. saying whether there would be a bed for me at Uncle Ras’ on Saturday & Sunday next, as I perhaps may manage to come up.4

I am going on all right but slowly, it will be some weeks till I may walk fairly. I am very glad to hear Hen. is better & finds Tunbridge Wells cheerful,5 we are just beginning the School Board scrummage. I expect I shall have to stand, one cannot decline, but it will be a trimendous undertaking if one is elected.6

Your affect son | W E Darwin

I enclose rather a funny letter from Sanford about pouting which may be burnt.7


The date is established by the reference to William’s copy of Descent; the publisher, John Murray, distributed CD’s presentation copies on or around 18 February 1871 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from R. F. Cooke, 15 February 1871, and letter from David Forbes, 18 February 1871). The first Sunday after 15 February 1871 was 19 February.
William’s name appears on the presentation list for Descent (Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix IV).
CD kept a scrapbook of reviews (DAR 226.2); a list of reviews of Descent appears in Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix V).
Erasmus Alvey Darwin lived at 6 Queen Anne Street, London. CD and Emma stayed at Erasmus’s house from 23 February to 2 March 1871 (Correspondence vol. 19, Appendix II).
On William’s injury, see the letter from W. E. Darwin, 6 February 1871. Henrietta Emma Darwin had an attack of measles in January (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Following the Elementary Education Act of 1870, local boards were elected to oversee schools that received state aid; in some cases, the boards also procured land and materials for the building of new schools, appointed teachers, and advised on curricula (Stephens 1998).
The letter from George Edward Langham Somerset Sanford has not been found. He was an officer in the Royal Engineers residing in Fawley, Hampshire, with children who were aged two and three in 1871 (Census returns of England and Wales 1871 (The National Archives: Public Record Office (RG10/1185/9/10)). William had communicated observations from Sanford of a crying infant in 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from W. E. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 28 February [1868], and letter from W. E. Darwin, [7 April 1868]).


Stephens, William Brewer. 1998. Education in Britain, 1750–1914. Basingstoke: Macmillan.


Thanks CD for copy of Descent. Is considering running for School Board.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Erasmus Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 39)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7489F,” accessed on 17 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24 (Supplement)