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Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   30 March 1872

Berlin | Behrenstrasse 13.

30. March. 72.

Dear Sir!

It is a pretty long time, I had no news from You, but knowing that Your Home Secretary is gone I did not write fearing to encroach upon Your time which is much better occupied elsewhere then in letter writing.1 However I am now much interested in the progress of Your new work upon “Expression” and I hope You will entrust it to my care for translation as You have done so kindly with Your former works.2 I have just a faint hope to come this spring to London to finish in the Britisch Museum something I begun last year, but I am by no means sure of it.3 I hope Your health is better now then it was at the time of my visit last year.— This winter I began a comparative miology of the Marsupials,4 but schall interrupt it for the summer to do something in Palaeontology and then finish the Marsupials in future winter; I regret I cannot send You a copy of my Anchiterium, as the plates are ready but the letter press is not yet finisched.5

If the work on “Expression” is in progress I should feel extremely obliged for a pair of proofscheets, as I have now every day some free hours which I should like to employ in translation.—

With compliments to Mrs Darwin

I am | very truly Yours | W. Kowalevsky.


Kovalevsky alludes to CD’s daughter Henrietta Emma Litchfield. Before her marriage in August 1871, Henrietta had helped CD by reading and commenting on his work. CD’s last extant letter to Kovalevsky is that of 2 June [1871] (Correspondence vol. 19).
Kovalevsky had translated Variation and Descent into Russian. Expression was published in November 1872 (Freeman 1977).
Kovalevsky arrived in London in the middle of June 1872 (Davitashvili 1951, p. 224).
While in Jena in the winter of 1871–2, Kovalevsky worked under the supervision of Carl Gegenbaur on the comparative myology of several marsupial genera, including Phascolarctos (wombats), Dasyurus (quolls), Didelphis (American opossums), Thylacinus (Tasmanian wolves), and Macropus (kangaroos and wallabies). Kovalevsky planned to extend this work in order to determine the underlying relationships between marsupial and placental mammals, but he did not publish on the subject (see Davitashvili 1951, pp. 219–21).
Kovalevsky refers to his monograph on Anchitherium aurelianense, a fossil horse (Kovalevsky 1872). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.


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

Davitashvili, Leo Shiovich. 1951. V. O. Kovalevsky. 2d edition. Moscow: Academy of Science of the USSR.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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.

Kovalevsky, Vladimir Onufrievich. 1872. Sur l’Anchitherium aurelianense Cuv. et sur l’histoire paléontologique des chevaux. [Read 5 September 1872.] Mémoires de l’Académie impériale des sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg 7th ser. 20 (1873), no. 5: 1–73.

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


Would like to do Russian translation of Expression.

May come to England.

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 90
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8262,” accessed on 14 July 2020,

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