Emma Darwin

1808–96

Youngest daughter of Josiah Wedgwood II. Married CD, her cousin, in 1839.

Sources: Emma Darwin (1904) and (1915). (See the bibliography for full references to sources)

Further Information:

Emma Darwin née Wedgwood (1808-1896) was the youngest daughter of Josiah Wedgwood II. In January 1839 she married her first cousin, Charles Darwin. She and Darwin had 10 children. Emma was religious: she had been baptised in the Anglican church and held Unitarian religious beliefs. Early in her relationship with Darwin, Emma expressed concern about his religious salvation. In spite of her concerns over Darwin’s religious beliefs, Emma remained supportive of her husband’s work throughout his life. Indeed, Darwin entrusted Emma with ensuring that his work would be published; in 1844 he asked Emma to ensure that his species theory would be published even if he died suddenly.

Emma often took over Darwin’s correspondence when he was feeling unwell. Darwin recognised the critical role Emma played in helping to manage his correspondence; in 1839 he wrote his elder sister Caroline that Emma had kindly taken charge of his office. In addition to helping her husband handle his extensive correspondence, Emma also served as a facilitator of his scientific work – she passed scientific requests from Darwin along to her correspondents. Darwin saw Emma as an exemplary wife.

Relevant Gender Resources:

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/women-and-science

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/womens-scientific-participation

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/gender-and-scientific-participation

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/scientists-wives

Primary Sources:

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-441

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-542 

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-761 

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-4498f 

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-7922

Darwin Correspondence Database,
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-4343f 

 

Secondary Sources:

Adrian Desmond and James Moore and Janet Browne, ‘Darwin, Charles Robert (1809–1882)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7176, accessed 20 Feb 2013]