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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Grove   15 July 1871

Crystal Palace, S.E.

July 15, 1871

My dear Sir

I have been too busy to thank you sooner for your kind note of the 2nd. mentioning Mrs. Hamilton’s name, and wishing me success with our Exhibition of Cats.1 It was very successful with one rather important exception. We did not expect half the number of Visitors, and therefore there was much inconvenient crowding and many persons were disappointed of seeing the Cats. We shall, however, remedy all this in November when we propose to repeat the Show.2

In the meantime I am desirous to ask you if you think there is any way in which we might make the future Exhibition serve the interests of Science and of your peculiar investigations. Supposing we were to offer prizes for any special character or modification for instance— One of the Cats exhibited on Thursday had I think 7 toes on each foot and some one said that you had mentioned the fact of such abnormal peculiarities in cats.3 I fear I am writing very ignorantly, but you will understand my object, which is to make my Show not only an attraction to possessors of Shillings, but if possible a use to men of Science

Yours very faithfully | G. Grove.

Ch. Darwin Esq


CD’s letter to Grove of 2 July 1871 has not been found; Mrs Hamilton has not been identified. Grove was secretary of the Crystal Palace Company; the first official cat show was held at the Crystal Palace on 13 July 1871 (Era, 16 July 1871, p. 4).
A second cat show was held at the Crystal Palace on 2 and 4 December 1871 (The Times, 4 December 1871, p. 12).
According to Era, 16 July 1871, p. 4, one of the cats exhibited had twenty-six claws. CD mentioned a rumoured race of six-toed cats in Variation 2: 14.


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


The cat exhibition was a success. Asks whether the next one might be made to serve interests of science and of CD’s investigations by, for example, offering prizes for cats with special modifications or characters.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Grove
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Crystal Palace
Source of text
DAR 165: 229
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7866,” accessed on 24 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19