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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   29 April [1851]

Down Farnborough Kent

Apr 29th.

My dear Fox

I do not suppose you will have heard of our bitter & cruel loss. Poor dear little Annie, when going on very well at Malvern, was taken with a vomiting attack, which was at first thought of the smallest importance, but it rapidly assumed the form of a low & dreadful fever, which carried her off in 10 days.— Thank God she suffered hardly at all, & expired as tranquilly as a little angel.— Our only consolation is, that she passed a short, though joyous life.— She was my favourite child; her cordiality, openness, buoyant joyousness & strong affection made her most loveable.1 Poor dear little soul. Well it is all over. My dear Emma supports herself admirably & is calm & courageous.— It was a severe aggravation that Emma could not possibly join me in nursing our darling: she almost daily expects her confinement.

I have not yet thanked you for your most kind & interesting letter of the 10th. I most truly hope that your health is better.

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


On 30 April, a week after Anne’s death, CD wrote a memorial (see Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix II) in order that ‘in after-years, if we live, the impressions now put down will recall more vividly her chief characteristics.’ Later, when writing about Anne’s death, Henrietta Litchfield stated that ‘it may almost be said that my mother never really recovered from this grief. She very rarely spoke of Annie, but when she did the sense of loss was always there unhealed. My father could not bear to reopen his sorrow, and he never, to my knowledge, spoke of her.’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 137). For an analysis of the effect of Anne’s death on CD, see Colp 1987 and Moore 1989.


Colp, Ralph, Jr. 1987. Charles Darwin’s ‘insufferable grief’. Free Associations 9: 7–44.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Moore, James R. 1989. Of love and death: why Darwin "gave up Christianity’. In Moore, James R., ed. History, humanity, and evolution: essays for John C. Greene. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


His favourite child, Anne, has unexpectedly died.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 79)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1425,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5