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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Robert Hunt   3 May [1866]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 3

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note. I enclose a copy of a sketch of the principal events in my life which will give you all the facts & more that you require.2

Believe me my dear Sir | yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin


Charles Robert Darwin born Feb 12 1809 at Shrewsbury, son of Dr Robert Waring Darwin F.R.S. & grandson of Dr Erasmus Darwin F.R.S author of the Botanic Garden, Zoonomia &c3 & grandson by the mother’s side of Josiah Wedgwood F.R.S the celebrated potter.4 Educated at Shrewsbury school under Dr Butler afterwards Bishop of Lichfield.5

In the winter of 1825 went to the Edinburgh University for two years, & thence to Christ’s College Cambridge, where he took his B.A. degree in 1831. In the autumn of 1831 Captain Fitz Roy R.N.,6 having offered to give up part of his own cabin to any Naturalist who would accompany H.M.S Beagle in her surveying voyage & circumnavigation, Mr Darwin volunteered his services without salary, but on condition that he should have the entire disposal of his collections. The Beagle sailed from England Dec. 27 1831 & returned Oct. 22. 1836.7 Mr Darwin published a volume as part of Captain Fitz Roy’s general work descriptive of the voyage, in 1839.8 This volume was republished in a modified form under the title of “Journal of researches” &c in 1845 & has since been several times reprinted.9 Between the year 1840 & 1843 Mr Darwin edited the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle giving an account of the habits & ranges of the various animals therein described. In aid of the publication of this & the following works the Lords of the Treasury granted £1000.10 In 1842 Mr Darwin published his work on “The Structure & distribution of Coral Reefs”.11 In 1845, “Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands”, & in 1846, “Geological Observations on South America”.12 In 1851 & 1854 Mr Darwin published two volumes by aid of the Ray Society on Pedunculated & Sessile Cirripedes, & the Paleontographical Society published for him two volumes on the Fossil Species of the same class.13 Towards the close of 1859 Mr Darwin published his “Origin of Species, of which four English editions have appeared, & nine foreign editions in French, German, Dutch, Italian & Russian.14 Above one hundred reviews, pamphlets & separate books have been published on this work.15

In 1862 Mr D. published a book “On the various contrivances by which Orchids are fertilized.”16

Of separate papers published by Mr D. the more important have been “On the connection of certain Volcanic Phenomena in South America”; “On the Distribution of Erratic boulders in S. America”; “on the formation of Mould by Earthworms” & on the Geology of the Falkland I’s;” all published in the Trans. of the Geolog. Soc.17

In the journal of the Linnean Soc. three papers by him have appeared on the Dimorphous & Trimorphous states of Primula, Linum & Lythrum; & one paper “On the Movements & habits of Climbing Plants”, which has also been published as a separate work.18

The Royal Soc. in 1853 awarded to Mr D. the Royal Medal, & in 1864, the Copley medal. In 1859 the Geolog. Soc. awarded him the Wollaston medal.19

Mr D. married his cousin Emma Wedgwood in the beginning of 1839 by whom he has a large family.20

He has lived for the last 26 years at Down near Farnborough Kent, & is a magistrate for that county.21


The year is established by the publication date of the fifth volume of Reeve and Walford eds. 1863–7, Portraits of men of eminence. A photograph of CD and a memoir edited by Hunt appeared in this volume, which was published in 1866. The letter is bound with Hunt’s proof copy of the text at the Natural History Museum, London (De Beer ed. 1959a, p. 37).
See n. 1, above. Hunt also later wrote on scientific practitioners for the DNB. He had corresponded with CD about light in 1855 (see Correspondence vol. 5).
E. Darwin 1789–91 and 1794–6; see also E. Darwin 1797, 1800, and 1803.
CD refers to Josiah Wedgwood I. Wedgwood’s daughter Susannah married Robert Waring Darwin in 1796.
Samuel Butler.
On this period of CD’s life see Correspondence vol. 1.
Journal and remarks.
Journal and remarks, volume 3 of FitzRoy’s Narrative, was issued in its own right as Journal of researches in the same year, 1839, and reprinted in 1840. A second edition was printed in 1845 and reprinted in 1852 and 1860. See Freeman 1977.
CD began work on Zoology in October 1837; publication of the parts began in February 1838 and was completed in October 1843 (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). On the publication of Zoology and on the Treasury grant, see Freeman 1977 and Correspondence vol. 2.
Coral reefs.
Volcanic islands was published in 1844 and South America in 1846.
CD refers to Living Cirripedia (1851) and (1854), and Fossil Cirripedia (1851) and (1854). On the publication of these books, see Correspondence vol. 5.
By the end of 1866 there had been four English editions of Origin, one Dutch (Winkler trans. 1860), two French (Royer trans. 1862 and 1866), two German (Bronn trans. 1860 and 1863), one Italian (Canestrini and Salimbeni trans. 1864), and two Russian (Rachinskii trans. 1864 and 1865). There had also been one US edition.
CD maintained a list of reviews of Origin and his other works; the list is now in DAR 262.8: 9–18 (Down House MS). See also Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VII. On the worldwide reception of Darwin’s work, see Glick ed. 1988.
On CD’s marriage to Emma, see Correspondence vol. 2. The marriage took place on 29 January 1839 (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). CD and Emma had seven surviving children.
CD moved to Down in September 1842 (see Correspondence vol. 2). He was a county magistrate from 1857 (J. R. Moore 1985, p. 467; see also Milner 1994, pp. 90–5).


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Darwin, Erasmus. 1789–91. The botanic garden; a poem, in two parts. Pt 1. The economy of vegetation. London: J. Johnson. 1791. Pt 2. The loves of the plants. With philosophical notes. Lichfield: J. Jackson. 1789.

Darwin, Erasmus. 1797. A plan for the conduct of female education in boarding schools. London: J. Johnson.

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

‘Formation of mould’: On the formation of mould. [Read 1 November 1837.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5 (1840): 505–9. [Shorter publications, pp. 124–7.]

Fossil Cirripedia (1851): A monograph on the fossil Lepadidæ, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1851.

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.

‘Geology of the Falkland Islands’: On the geology of the Falkland Islands. By Charles Darwin. [Read 25 March 1846.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 2 (1846): 267–74. [Collected papers 1: 203–12.]

Journal and remarks: Journal and remarks. 1832–1836. By Charles Darwin. Vol. 3 of Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe. London: Henry Colburn. 1839. [Separately published as Journal of researches.]

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

Milner, Richard. 1994. Charles Darwin: evolution of a naturalist. New York: Facts on file.

Moore, James Richard. 1985. Darwin of Down: the evolutionist as squarson-naturalist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1844.

‘Volcanic phenomena and the formation of mountain chains’: On the connexion of certain volcanic phenomena in South America; and on the formation of mountain chains and volcanos, as the effect of the same power by which continents are elevated. By Charles Darwin. [Read 7 March 1838.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 5 (1840): 601–31. [Shorter publications, pp. 97–124.]

Zoology: The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. 5 pts. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838–43.


Encloses a sketch of the principal events in his life [for RH’s memoir on CD in Walford, ed., Portraits of men of eminence (1863–7)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Robert Hunt
Sent from
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (tipped into General Special Collections MSS HUN/49)
Physical description
LS 1p, encl 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5524,” accessed on 25 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14