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Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   13 September 1869


13 September 1869

My dear Sir!

It is such a long time that I had no news from You, nor gave You any of me that I fear I am quite forgotten in Your amiable house at Down.1

I left Russia in March and passed the whole summer in Germany at Heidelberg devoting myself entirely to Geology and have now a reasonable hope to regain the time lost by me these five years, while affairs dragged me away from regular studies. My wife was happy enough to be accepted in the University as a regular student and worked so well that in eighteen months or two years she will be able to pass her examination as “Doctor der Mathematik und Physik”.2

In the vacation I travelled about five weeks in Switzerland, am now in Paris and hope to be in London, though my chief attraction in England will be Down. If you have not quite forgotten Your visitor of 1866 & editor of Your book3 be so kind as to write me two lines to Paris (W. Kowalevsky, Paris. Boulevard Montparnasse, Rue Vavin, Hotel Heranger N 4.) to inform me wether You will be able to receive our visit, I am very Impatient to see You once more and my wife is the more so to make Your aquaintance. The best wish of my brother was also to go this year to England to visit You, but he was send by the University of Kieff to the Caspian Sea and the project was to be remitted to the next year.4 I present also my humble respects to Mrs Darwin and the Ladies5 and am Sir

Yours most truly | W. Kowalevsky

P.S. The Russian Edition of Your work was not quite finished in March, when I got away, but now it is all ready and perhaps I could bring You a copy of my edition if I receive it by time from home.—6


Kovalevsky visited CD at Down in August 1867, not 1866 as Kovalevsky writes in this letter (see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II).
Kovalevsky’s wife was Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya. For more on her career in mathematics, see Koblitz 1983.
Kovalevsky had translated Variation into Russian (V. O. Kovalevsky trans. 1868–9).
Kovalevsky refers to Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky. Kovalevsky had sent CD some of his brother’s embryological papers in 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867 and n. 6).
Emma Darwin, Henrietta Emma Darwin, and Elizabeth Darwin.
The Russian translation of Variation (V. O. Kovalevsky trans. 1868–9) was published in seven parts between 1867 and 1869 and also issued in book form (see Freeman 1977). CD’s copy of the book is in the Darwin Library–Down. Kovalevsky and his wife visited Down from 30 September to 1 October 1869 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


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

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.

Koblitz, Ann Hibner. 1983. A convergence of lives: Sofia Kovalevskaia, scientist, writer, revolutionary. Boston: Birkhäuser.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Since March has been living in Heidelberg, where his wife is studying mathematics and physics.

The Russian translation of Variation has been printed in his absence; he will bring a copy to Down if he receives one from Russia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 78
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6890,” accessed on 14 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17