skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To S. H. Haliburton   1 November [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

November 1st.

My dear Mrs. Haliburton

I daresay you will be surprised to hear from me. My object in writing now is to say that I have just published a book on the “Expression of the Emotions in Man & Animals”; & it has occurred to me that you might possibly like to read some parts of it; & I can hardly think that this would have been the case with any of the books which I have already published.2 So I send by this post my present book. Although I have had no communication with you or the other members of your family for so long a time, no scenes in my whole life pass so frequently or so vividly before my mind, as those which relate to happy old days spent at Woodhouse.3 I should very much like to hear a little news about yourself & the other members of your family, if you will take the trouble to write to me. Formerly I used to glean some news about you from my sisters.4

I have had many years of bad health & have not been able to visit anywhere; & now I feel very old. As long as I pass a perfectly uniform life, I am able to do some daily work in Natural History, which is still my passion, as it was in old days, when you used to laugh at me for collecting beetles with such zeal at Woodhouse. Excepting from my continued ill-health, which has excluded me from society, my life has been a very happy one;—the greatest drawback being that several of my children have inherited from me feeble health.

I hope with all my heart that you retain, at least to a large extent, the famous “Owen constitution”.—

With sincere feelings of gratitude & affection for all bearing the name of Owen, I venture to sign myself | Yours affectionately | Charles Darwin

My wife desires me to send her very kind regards to you.—


The year is established by the reference to Expression, which was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
Haliburton was an old family friend of CD’s (see Correspondence vol. 1, s.v. Owen, Sarah Harriet Mostyn). Her name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (Appendix V).
Woodhouse in Rednal (West Felton), in Shropshire, was the estate of Haliburton’s father, William Mostyn Owen Sr; on CD’s visits there before the Beagle voyage, see J. Browne 1995, pp. 111–16.
Marianne Parker, Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, Susan Elizabeth Darwin, and Emily Catherine Langton. CD’s only surviving sister was Caroline.


Browne, Janet. 1995. Charles Darwin. Voyaging. Volume I of a biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.


Sends a copy of Expression

and speaks fondly of his memories of Woodhouse and the Owen family.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sarah Harriet Mostyn Owen/Sarah Harriet Williams/Sarah Harriet Haliburton
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 22
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8591,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

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