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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. F. Lubbock   [1873?]1

Dear Mr. Darwin

You are kind enough to say, I am an observer, which I fear I am not, and could never be really, on account of my short sight. But may I ask if you notice that the longhaired cats like to be stroked the wrong way? & that they wag their tails when pleased?

My first Angora cat (I am not sure where its country is, but it was called Angora) is now possessed by Mr. Lowe,2 & is a magnificent creature. It wagged its tail when pleased, & preferred to have its fur rubbed the wrong way. So does my present cat, which is of a real good breed.

Most likely you will think, as Amy3 said when she was quite a small child & I had told her some things about animals “I knowed all that, a long time ago.”

John is gone to Maidstone today: he seems to catch it on all sides

CD annotations

1.1 You … pleased? 1.4] crossed pencil
3.1 Most … sides 4.1] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Lady Lubbock’ pencil


The year is conjectured on the supposition that this letter was inspired by Expression, which was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
Robert Lowe.
Amy Harriet Lubbock was Ellen and John Lubbock’s eldest daughter.


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.


Observations on her pet cat.

Letter details

Letter no.
Ellen Frances Hordern/Ellen Frances Lubbock
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 170: 14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8701,” accessed on 20 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21