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To Albany Hancock   25 May [1856]


Wants accurate information on "the economy of nature". Is interested in how far the struggle with other species checks the northern range of any species.

Thanks John Storey for information.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Albany Hancock
Date:  25 May [1856]
Classmark:  J. Hancock 1886, pp. 277–8
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1332

To C. J. F. Bunbury   [before 9 May 1856]


Adds comments to a list of Cape of Good Hope plants which are also European and gives some additions to the list [see Natural selection, p. 552].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles James Fox Bunbury, 8th baronet
Date:  [before 9 May 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 73: 159
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1617

To Miss Holland   [May 1856]


An entomologist who has been staying with CD [T. V. Wollaston] says the pupa she sent would turn into a lackey moth.

Adds that the great destruction of birds in the winter preceding the last is probable cause of survival of caterpillars and resulting numerous cocoons.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Miss Holland
Date:  [May 1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1861

From Charles Lyell   1–2 May 1856



Urges CD to publish his theory with small part of data.

Corrects names of land shells on list of shells picked up at Down.

Discusses transport of Ancylus from one river-bed to another by water-beetle.

"I hear that when you & Hooker & Huxley & Wollaston got together you made light of all Species & grew more & more unorthodox."

Mentions discussion of old Atlantis by Oswald Heer.

Comments on Helix and Nanina.

Mentions beetle discovered with small bag of eggs of water-spider under wing.

Madeira evidence favours single species birth-place theory.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  1–2 May 1856
Classmark:  DAR 205.3: 282
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1862

To Asa Gray   2 May [1856]


Suggests affinities of the U. S. flora that he considers would be worth investigating. Wants to know the ranges of species in large and small genera.

Questions AG on naturalised plants; whether any are social in U. S. which are not so elsewhere and how variable they are compared with indigenous species. Would like to know of any differences in the variability of species at different points of their ranges and also the physical states of plants at the extremes of their ranges.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Asa Gray
Date:  2 May [1856]
Classmark:  Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University (4)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1863

From Samuel Pickworth Woodward   2 May 1856


Proportion of molluscan species to genera in various periods. The difficulty of determining species increases with the number of species per genus. Identifying species within a genus is most difficult in that period in which the genus shows its greatest development.

Author:  Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  2 May 1856
Classmark:  DAR 181: 153
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1864

From Laurence Edmondston   [before 3 May 1856]



The vaunted fidelity of the ark bird has its exceptions.

Gives some details on wild pigeons.

Answers in the affirmative CD’s query about drifted trees.

Author:  Laurence Edmondston
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [before 3 May 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 205.2: 229
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1865

To Charles Lyell   3 May [1856]


Discusses possibility of publishing a sketch of his views.

Comments on CL’s letter [1862].

Mentions various geological topics.

Asks to borrow publication by Heer.

Mentions flight of Colymbetes over ocean.

Recalls visit by Wollaston.

Notes views of Hooker and Huxley on species.

Mentions ability of ducks to transport plant seeds.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Date:  3 May [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.127)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1866

To Laurence Edmondston   3 May [1856]


Thanks for reply to queries.

Requests that a wild rock-pigeon be sent. Have they been domesticated as William Macgillivray says [History of British birds (1837) 1: 275–84; see also Variation 1: 185n.]?

Is rabbit wild in Shetlands?

LE’s information on drifted trees adds an archipelago to his list.

Requests information on variation in domesticated Shetland animals;

bones of large quadrupeds in peat.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Laurence Edmondston
Date:  3 May [1856]
Classmark:  L. D. Edmondston (private collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1867

To T. H. Huxley   4 May [1856]


It seems improper that his advances to G. B. Sowerby Jr for payment of engravings should not have been mentioned to Council of Ray Society. His appreciation of the Society.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Thomas Henry Huxley
Date:  4 May [1856]
Classmark:  Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 35)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1868

From J. D. Hooker   7 May 1856



Non-endemic Ascension Island plants brought by man, not wind-transported.

Bentham has found intermediates between oxlip and cowslip in Herefordshire.

JDH finds quantity of albumen in seeds is not variable within a species.

Author:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  7 May 1856
Classmark:  DAR 100: 94–5
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1869

To J. D. Hooker   9 May [1856]



Lyell urges CD to publish a sketch of species theory; CD asks JDH’s opinion on best course.

Concerned about opposition, particularly by Owen, to Huxley’s admission to Athenaeum.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  9 May [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 161
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1870

To E. W. V. Harcourt   9 May [1856]


Has seen EWVH’s list of the birds of Madeira, and would like to know more about the ‘occasional visitants’.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edward William Vernon Harcourt
Date:  9 May [1856]
Classmark:  Bodleian Libraries, Oxford (MS. Harcourt dep. adds. 346, fols. 248–9)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1870F

To C. J. F. Bunbury   9 May [1856]


On geographical dispersal of plants. Would be interested in CJFB’s views on representative species and on his hypothesis of a mundane cold period, which CD cannot prove geologically, but thinks, if it explains many facts of geographical distribution, may be admitted as probable. Hooker and Alphonse de Candolle do not agree with him.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles James Fox Bunbury, 8th baronet
Date:  9 May [1856]
Classmark:  Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds (Bunbury Family Papers E18/700/1/9/6)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1871

To Henry Ambrose Oldfield   10 May [1856]


Asks HAO about breeds of Tibetan dogs and other domesticated animals.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Henry Ambrose Oldfield
Date:  10 May [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.128)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1872

To W. B. Tegetmeier   11 May [1856]


Thanks WBT for help with pigeons and poultry.

Will probably be away at the time of Anerley show.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Date:  11 May [1856]
Classmark:  Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1873

To J. D. Hooker   11 May [1856]



CD is unsure about JDH’s recommendation that he publish a separate "Preliminary Essay". It is unphilosophical to publish without full details.

CD will work for Huxley’s admission to Athenaeum.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  11 May [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 162
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1874

To S. P. Woodward   15 May [1856]


Thanks for Supplement to SPW’s Manual of the Mollusca [1851–6]. Praises SPW’s work. "What an amount of labour is condensed in your little volume! … I fully believe & hope that you will reap the only reward worth having, the consciousness that you have done good service to the cause of Science."

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Date:  15 May [1856]
Classmark:  Sotheby’s (dealers) (21 March 1966)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1875

To J. D. Hooker   21 [May 1856]



Huxley’s "vehement" [Royal Institution?] Lectures make it difficult to propose him for Athenaeum.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  21 [May 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 163
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1876

To J. W. Lubbock   27 May [1856]


Asks JWL to use his influence to forward the appointment of T. H. Huxley to the Examinership in Physiology and Comparative Anatomy at University of London. Gives details of THH’s qualifications.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John William Lubbock, 3d baronet
Date:  27 May [1856]
Classmark:  The Royal Society (LUB: D23)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1877
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Charles Harrison Blackley


You may not have heard of Charles Harrison Blackley (1820–1900), but if you are one of the 15 million people in the UK who suffer from hay fever, you are indebted to him. For it was he who identified pollen as the cause of the allergy. Darwin was…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … Aestivus (hay-fever or hay-asthma). And on   5 July 1873 Darwin wrote again, saying:  ‘The …
  • … blown in every direction. (Letter to C. H. Blackley, 5 July [1873] ) Blackley …
  • … Praya in his Journal of researches (2nd edition, p. 5). Darwin gave a further example of how …

Darwin and Down


Charles and Emma Darwin, with their first two children, settled at Down House in the village of Down (later ‘Downe’) in Kent, as a young family in 1842.   The house came with eighteen acres of land, and a fifteen acre meadow.  The village combined the…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … and the struggle for existence: To J. D. Hooker,  5 June [1855] : Darwin describes the …
  • … for existence in his own weed garden. To Asa Gray,  5 September [1857] : setting out his …

Darwin in letters, 1872: Job done?


'My career’, Darwin wrote towards the end of 1872, 'is so nearly closed. . .  What little more I can do, shall be chiefly new work’, and the tenor of his correspondence throughout the year is one of wistful reminiscence, coupled with a keen eye…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … appear’, complained Darwin ( letter to St G. J. Mivart, 5 January 1872 ). Piqued, Mivart flung …
  • … accepted it at least in part ( letter to August Weismann, 5 April 1872 ). ‘I wanted some …
  • … to believe it’ ( letter to Herman Müller, [before 5 May 1872] ).  Müller had sent him a …
  • … myself was standing’ ( letter to Hermann Müller, [before 5 May 1872] ). Finishing  …
  • … to me, which have ever been made’ ( letter to Mary Treat, 5 January 1872 ). In June, Lady …

Darwin's Fantastical Voyage


Learn about Darwin's adventures on his epic journey.

Matches: 1 hits

  • … These activities explore Darwin’s life changing voyage aboard HMS Beagle. Using letters home, …

Detecting Darwin


Who was Charles Darwin? What is he famous for? Why is he still important?

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Pupils act as Darwin detectives, exploring clues about Darwin’s life and work. No prior knowledge …

Language: Interview with Gregory Radick


Darwin made a famous comment about parallels between changes in language and species change. Gregory Radick, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Leeds University, talks about the importance of the development of language to Darwin, what…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … of the Fuegians and Fuegian language? 5. What is the impact of Darwin’s writings …
  • … the correspondence shows just really didn’t happen. 5. What is the impact of Darwin’s …

Darwin’s queries on expression


When Darwin resumed systematic research on emotions around 1866, he began to collect observations more widely and composed a list of queries on human expression. A number of handwritten copies were sent out in 1867 (see, for example, letter to Fritz Muller…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … Bowman, William 5 Aug 1867 5 Clifford St, London, …
  • … Hooker, J.D. 5 Sept 1868 Kew, London (about Nagasaki …

List of correspondents


Below is a list of Darwin's correspondents with the number of letters for each one. Click on a name to see the letters Darwin exchanged with that correspondent.    "A child of God" (1) Abberley,…

Matches: 20 hits

  • … (1) Austen, J. T. (5) Austin, A. D. …
  • … H. (7) Ball, John (5) Ball, Robert …
  • … (1) Beaufort, Francis (5) Becher, A. B. …
  • … (8) Beneden, Édouard van (5) Bennet, C. A. (b) …
  • … (1) Birch, Samuel (5) Birkett, Thomas …
  • … (2) Boner, Charles (5) Bonham-Carter, Alice …
  • … (2) Bookseller. (5) Boole, M. E. (3) …
  • … (29) Brace, C. L. (5) Bradfield, Thomas …
  • … (3) Canby, W. M. (5) Candolle, Alphonse de …
  • … Carneri, Bartholomäus von (5) Carpenter, W. B. (19) …
  • … (3) Clark, Andrew (5) Clark, J. W. (a) …
  • … (2) Collingwood, Cuthbert (5) Colvile, J. W. …
  • … (1) Cross, George (5) Cross, R. A. …
  • … (4) Crotch, W. D. (5) Crowe, J. R. …
  • … (1) Dew-Smith, A. G. (5) Dicey, A. V. …
  • … (2) Doedes, N. D. (5) Dohrn, Anton …
  • … (3) Drummond, James (a) (5) Drysdale, …
  • … (3) Edmondston, Laurence (5) Edwards & …
  • … (1) Edwards, Henry (5) Edwards, W. H. …
  • … (3) Forchhammer, J. G. (5) Ford, G. H. …

Darwin in letters, 1863: Quarrels at home, honours abroad


At the start of 1863, Charles Darwin was actively working on the manuscript of The variation of animals and plants under domestication, anticipating with excitement the construction of a hothouse to accommodate his increasingly varied botanical experiments…

Matches: 7 hits

  • … as he put it in a letter to J. D. Hooker of 24[–5] February [1863] . When Huxley’s book described …
  • … mentor had not said a word ( letter to J. D. Hooker, 24[–5] February [1863] ). Darwin did …
  • … for a fitting opportunity’ ( letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863] ). …
  • … been filled in the fossil record ( letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863] ). Only until …
  • … the  Athenæum  in response ( letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 March [1863] ). He later expressed …
  • … honours like the Copley Medal ( see letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 [December 1863] ). Plants and …
  • … reminder of their loss (see  Correspondence  vol. 5). Unable to find Annie’s gravestone in 1863, …

Have you read the one about....


... the atheistical cats, or the old fogies in Cambridge? We've suggested a few - some funny, some serious - but all letters you can read here.

Matches: 1 hits

  • … ... the atheistical cats, or the old fogies in Cambridge? We've suggested a few - some funny, some …

Rewriting Origin - the later editions


For such an iconic work, the text of Origin was far from static. It was a living thing that Darwin continued to shape for the rest of his life, refining his ‘one long argument’ through a further five English editions.  Many of his changes were made in…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … 1865 4 th English edition published, 1866 5 th English edition published, 1869 …
  • … Joseph Hooker on the Arctic.   4 th to 5 th edition I have, …
  • … von Nägeli, resulting in a substantial addition ( Origin 5 th ed, pp 151–3).   Nägeli had …
  • … of significant correspondents.   5 th to 6 th edition …
  • … French edition which had already begun using the text of the 5 th English edition but had fallen …

Darwin’s hothouse and lists of hothouse plants


Darwin became increasingly involved in botanical experiments in the years after the publication of Origin. The building of a small hothouse - a heated greenhouse - early in 1863  greatly increased the range of plants that he could keep for scientific…

Matches: 14 hits

  • … account book (Down House MS) and  Correspondence  vol. 5, letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 April [1855 …
  • … beauty in each leaf’ (letter to J. D. Hooker, 24[–5] February [1863] ). Darwin’s aesthetic …
  • … to which they belonged. In his letter to Hooker of 5 March [1863] , he announced that the plants …
  • … by Darwin; these lists are in DAR 255: 8 and DAR 255: 2–5. The first is a list that Darwin …
  • … plants sent to him by Hooker (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 March [1863] ), since many of the …
  • … to Darwin from Kew. Darwin said in the letter to Hooker of 5 March [1863] that he had received …
  • …   Malpighia urens 5       …
  • …     ——  speciosa 5 do. do. …
  • … § Gongora atropurpurea 5   § Cyrtopodium Andersonii …
  • …   § ——  maculata 5   ——  punctata 10 …
  • …   Anoectochilus argenteus  12 5 s . § …
  • … curassavica. 4.  Canna Warszewiczii. 5.  ‘speciosa’ deleted in pencil. 6.  This …
  • … 1863a, p. 10. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 24[–5] February [1863] and n. 19. 9. …
  • … aurantiaca 12.  ‘Anoectochilus argenteus 5 s .’ deleted in ink. 13.  ‘—— pictus 8 …

Abstract of Darwin’s theory


There are two extant versions of the abstract of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. One was sent to Asa Gray on 5 September 1857, enclosed with a letter of the same date (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 5 September [1857] and enclosure).…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … theory of natural selection. One was sent to Asa Gray on 5 September 1857, enclosed with a letter of …
  • … & occasional selection has been the main agent in making 5  our domestic races. But, however, …
  • … any way useful to it, during any part of its life. (5)   Multiform difficulties will occur to …

Darwin in letters, 1868: Studying sex


The quantity of Darwin’s correspondence increased dramatically in 1868 due largely to his ever-widening research on human evolution and sexual selection.Darwin’s theory of sexual selection as applied to human descent led him to investigate aspects of the…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … able to throw off thick dictionaries by flexing. On 5 April , Edward Blyth, who had supplied …
  • … 3 June 1868 ). ‘It was very kind’, Darwin wrote on 5 June , ‘almost heroic, in you to sacrifice …
  • … distributed it in Japan ( letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 September 1868 ); Edward Wilson, a neighbour …
  • … Molendo and Alexander Walther addressed themselves on 5 August to ‘the Reformator of Natural …
  • … had sent four letters the previous year, wrote again on 5 October , ‘I am quite distressed that …

Darwin in letters, 1880: Sensitivity and worms


There are summaries of all Darwin's letters from the year 1880 on this website.  The full texts of the letters are not yet available online but are in volume 28 of the print edition of The correspondence of Charles Darwin, published by Cambridge…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … is of much value to me’ ( letter to C. H. Tindal, 5 January 1880 ). Darwin had employed a …
  • … and Expression . He offered detailed comments on 5 February : ‘I should have thought that the …

Darwin in letters, 1847-1850: Microscopes and barnacles


Darwin's study of barnacles, begun in 1844, took him eight years to complete. The correspondence reveals how his interest in a species found during the Beagle voyage developed into an investigation of the comparative anatomy of other cirripedes and…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … ( Correspondence  vol. 3, letter to J. D. Hooker, [5 or 12 November 1845] ). In the event, the …

Capturing Darwin’s voice: audio of selected letters


On a sunny Wednesday in June 2011 in a makeshift recording studio somewhere in Cambridge, we were very pleased to welcome Terry Molloy back to the Darwin Correspondence Project for a special recording session. Terry, known for his portrayal of Davros in Dr…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … (e.g. to Lydia Becker, 2 August 1863 ; to Mary Treat, 5 January 1872 ). Click on the …

Darwin in letters, 1867: A civilised dispute


Charles Darwin’s major achievement in 1867 was the completion of his large work, The variation of animals and plants under domestication (Variation). The importance of Darwin’s network of correspondents becomes vividly apparent in his work on expression in…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … your work will be published’ ( letter from J. V. Carus, 5 April 1867 ). This hint of uncertainty …
  • … resulted in a mottled hybrid ( letter from Robert Trail, 5 April 1867 ). Darwin told his American …
  • … might come into play in some circumstances. In a letter of 5 May [1867] , Darwin admitted, …
  • … would subdue; that is yours’ ( letter from J. V. Carus, 5 April 1867 ). Darwin complied, and his …

Dramatisation script


Re: Design – Adaptation of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Asa Gray and others… by Craig Baxter – as performed 25 March 2007

Matches: 2 hits

  • … and the simplicity of his character. DARWIN:   5   I am allowed to work now two-and-a …

Darwin’s reading notebooks


In April 1838, Darwin began recording the titles of books he had read and the books he wished to read in Notebook C (Notebooks, pp. 319–28). In 1839, these lists were copied and continued in separate notebooks. The first of these reading notebooks (DAR 119…

Matches: 7 hits

  • … de Gembloux 1839]. Said to be good by D r  L. Lindsay 5 [DAR *119: 1v.] 6 …
  • … p. 290 “Thacker” [Thacker 1834–5] p. 291 Athenæum 1839. p. …
  • … The Philosoph. of Instinct & Reason by S. Bushnan. Longman. 5 s  [Bushnan 1837]—dedicated to L …
  • … Traite Elementair  Palæontologie M. Pictet [Pictet 1844–5]— Forbes?? Waterhouse has it— 1844— read …
  • … cloth lettered, (pub. at 6 s  per vol.) reduced to 5 s  1834–43 1. Humming Birds, Vol. 1 …
  • … Gardener’s and Florist’s Dictionary, 2 vols. 8vo. 1724. 5 s . 42  [P. Miller 1724] Life …
  • … 1769] Zoolog. Journal [ Zoological Journal ] 5 Vols. Voyage de la Coquille [Duperrey …
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