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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. W. Reade   16 May 1872

11 St. Mary Abbot’s Terrace | Kensington

May 16—72

My dear Sir

I really feel more grateful to you for your blame & for your warnings than for your praise, as I think that you would not bestow the former unless you felt some interest in my future career.1 I shall bear in mind what you have said, and it accords with some reflections that occurred to me—as to whether punching the public’s head (such a thick head too) is the way to improve its mind— Perhaps I have only bruised my own knuckles.

Respecting my travels I shall at least take care to state any scientific fact that I may have to contribute, in scientific language. But it will be a personal narrative, & I shall put in nothing which will not interest women—2 My plan however is still rather cloudy. Of course I will not ask you to answer this letter: if at any future time I stand in need of your advice or have anything wh. I think may interest you I will write again. Pray do not hesitate to ask me for details on any African point that may occur to you; all my raw material is at your disposal. I only wish it was of more value—

I am afraid Mrs. Darwin is not pleased with the theological parts of the Martyrdom if she has read them and that she has discovered the word “presumptuous” is applicable to the writer of the book—though not to the writer of the preface—3 When my book of travels comes out I shall venture to ask her for her opinion of it.

So then au revoir, and I need not say how earnestly I hope you may have good health which you know so well how to employ for our benefit & instruction   I remain | Yours very truly Winwood Reade

Trübner says that book is going off very well.4


CD’s letter to Reade has not been found, but evidently concerned Reade’s Martyrdom of man (Reade 1872; see letter from W. W. Reade, 3 May 1872.
Reade refers to his African sketch-book (Reade 1873).
Nicholas Trübner was the publisher of Reade 1872.


Reade, William Winwood. 1872. The martyrdom of man. London: Trübner & Co.

Reade, William Winwood. 1873. The African sketch-book. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.


WWR is beginning to appreciate CD’s warnings against his polemical writing.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Winwood Reade
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 60
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8335,” accessed on 24 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20