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To John Murray   17 November [1856–7]


Asks JM for four copies of his Journal of researches [2d ed.] at wholesale price. Also asks for total number of copies sold.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  17 Nov [1856-7]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.62–63)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1026

From John Higgins   17 November 1856


Mr Hardy, CD’s tenant at Beesby, has spent £105 on improvements to the farm. JH suggests different ways of recompensing the tenant, and asks for CD’s decision.

Author:  John Higgins
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  17 Nov 1856
Classmark:  Lincolnshire Archives (HIG/4/2/1/98)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1026F

To John Murray   20 November [1856–7]


Thanks for gift [of books requested in 1026]. Sale is a good deal more than he had anticipated.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  20 Nov [1856-7]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42153 ff.54–55)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1028

From George Bentham   2 December [1856]


Cites cases of leguminous plants whose cleistogamic flowers produce more seed than perfect flowers. [See Forms of flowers, p. 326.]

Author:  George Bentham
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  2 Dec [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 111: A75–6
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11267

From W. D. Fox   19 December [1856]



Informs CD that in his experience with peas he has never found the seed to deteriorate.

Author:  William Darwin Fox
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  19 Dec [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 77: 170
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11799

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 R. H. Bakewell   30 April [1856–68]


Thanks for case of inherited malconformation.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Robert Hall Bakewell
Date:  30 Apr [1856-68]
Classmark:  Christie’s (dealers) (4 June 2008)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-13770F

To E. W. V. Harcourt   19 August [1856]


Asks to borrow C. L. Brehm’s book [Handbuch der Naturgeschichte aller Vögel Deutschlands (1831)]. Wants to see how far Brehm went in splitting species.

Took finches from Madeira to British Museum.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edward William Vernon Harcourt
Date:  19 Aug [1856]
Classmark:  Houghton Library, Harvard University (Autograph File, D)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1451

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 John Lubbock   [29 July 1856]


Regrets he cannot help JL; the point [unspecified] was always a trouble to CD also.

Has been to a poultry show.

Asks for the return of a lens.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Date:  [29 July 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 263: 13 (EH 88206462)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1620

From J. D. Hooker   [16 November 1856]



JDH not happy with CD’s explanation of the absence of north temperate forms in the Southern Hemisphere, given his explanation for the spread of sub-arctic forms to the south. [CD’s note is in response to JDH’s criticism.]

Author:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [16 Nov 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 100: 162–3
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1622

From George Gulliver   20 January [1856]


Discusses the similarity in size, shape, and structure of the blood corpuscles of the Aves. Notes differences between the corpuscles of the domestic dog and some wild species.

Author:  George Gulliver
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  20 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  DAR (CD library – Gulliver, George 1846)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1632

From W. D. Fox   8 March [1856]


Is trying to procure some cocks for CD.

Believes Scotch deerhounds are mongrels.

Author:  William Darwin Fox
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Mar [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 164: 174
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1646

To W. B. D. Mantell   10 April [1856]


Thanks WBDM for his reply [missing] to CD’s previous letter [1603].

Asks for more details on the erratic blocks.

Asks also if there is good evidence that there formerly existed [in New Zealand] some animal with hair, like an otter or beaver.

Finally, do the uncivilised natives have the same ideal of [human] beauty as Europeans?

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Walter Baldock Durrant Mantell
Date:  10 Apr [1856]
Classmark:  Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand (MS-Papers-0083-268)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1663

To William Erasmus Darwin   [26 February 1856]


Writes of WED’s progress at school and events at home.

Discusses pigeons, with which he is "getting on splendidly".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Erasmus Darwin
Date:  [26 Feb 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 210.6: 8
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1804

From Thomas Vernon   Wollaston [February 1856]



Sends Madeira specimens, including frogs recently introduced into the island, and flourishing.

Author:  Thomas Vernon Wollaston
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [Feb 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 205.3: 299
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1806

From S. P. Woodward   [after 4 June 1856]



Note on cases of representative shells that are not clearly either varieties or species.

Author:  Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [after 4 June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 205.9: 403
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1807

To Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood   18 [August 1856 – January 1858]


Is flattered by a proposal that he undertake some reviewing work, but has many years’ work in prospect on his present book on species and varieties.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Frances Emma Elizabeth (Fanny) Wedgwood
Date:  18 [Aug 1856 - Jan 1858]
Classmark:  DAR 148: 303
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1810

To William Bernhard Tegetmeier   1 January [1856]


Will attend the Philoperisteron [pigeon fanciers’ club] if he possibly can.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Date:  1 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1813

To John Maurice Herbert   2 January [1856]


Thanks JMH for book of poems.

Recalls early days together. He cannot visit due to health.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Maurice Herbert
Date:  2 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.121)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1814
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Darwin in letters, 1856-1857: the 'Big Book'


In May 1856, Darwin began writing up his 'species sketch’ in earnest. During this period, his working life was completely dominated by the preparation of his 'Big Book', which was to be called Natural selection. Using letters are the main…

Matches: 21 hits

  • … On 14 May 1856, Charles Darwin recorded in his journal that he ‘Began by Lyell’s …
  • … Charles Lyell and Joseph Dalton Hooker, who were joined in 1856 by Hooker’s friend the American …
  • … only source of information about his preoccupations during 1856 and 1857. They reveal little noticed …
  • … might work in nature ( letter from Charles Lyell, 1–2 May 1856, n. 10 ). He was surprised that no …
  • … remarked to Hooker ( letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 September [1856] ). I mean to make my …
  • … on plants. Expanding projects set up during 1855 and 1856 (see  Correspondence  vol. 5), he tried …
  • … first two chapters of his species book, completed by October 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II). …
  • … Gray, vary in the United States ( letter to Asa Gray, 2 May 1856 )? What about weeds? Did they …
  • … hermaphrodite’ ( letter to to T. H. Huxley, 1 July [1856] ), which became a source of amusement in …
  • … that Asa Gray and Hooker confirmed during the course of 1856. Science at home: the botanical …
  • … many different experiments on plants through the summers of 1856 and 1857, particularly with garden …
  • … have grown well.’ ( letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 December [1856] ). His faith in his ideas …
  • … trees (see letters to William Erasmus Darwin, [26 February 1856] and to Charles Lyell, 3 May …
  • … Waring Darwin, the sixth and last, was born on 6 December 1856) was a constant worry, particularly …
  • … in New South Wales ( letter to Syms Covington, 9 March 1856 ). Many other topics, …
  • … the geological phenomenon of cleavage, still unresolved in 1856, with John Phillips and entered into …
  • … visited the Darwins at Down House for several days in April 1856, and Darwin took this opportunity …
  • … made in a letter written by Lyell from London on 1–2 May 1856. Darwin took the suggestion seriously …
  • … him to write up his views ( letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1856] ). Darwin had also …
  • … At a second weekend party held at Down on 26 and 27 April 1856, he had discussed the question of …
  • … doctrine.’ ( letter from Charles Lyell, 1–2 May 1856, n. 7 ). The excitement and intellectual …

Darwin and Fatherhood


Charles Darwin married Emma Wedgwood in 1839 and over the next seventeen years the couple had ten children. It is often assumed that Darwin was an exceptional Victorian father. But how extraordinary was he? The Correspondence Project allows an unusually…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … were built to the area (Darwin to J. D. Hooker,  8 April [1856] ). This meant that most of the …
  • … family duties (Darwin to W. B. Tegetmeier,  19 November [1856] ) made him unable to travel to many …
  • … his son William,  [30 October 1858] ). In one letter in 1856, he explained his paternal feelings …
  • … in this world.’ (Darwin to Syms Covington,  9 March 1856 ) In the late nineteenth century, …

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

  • … 21 JULY 1855 14  C DARWIN TO A GRAY, 14 JULY 1856 15  A GRAY TO C DARWIN …
  • … 1855 23  JD HOOKER TO C DARWIN, 9 NOVEMBER 1856 24  C DARWIN TO JD …



Darwin’s most famous work, Origin, had an inauspicious beginning. It grew out of his wish to establish priority for the species theory he had spent over twenty years researching. Darwin never intended to write Origin, and had resisted suggestions in 1856…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … to write Origin, and had resisted suggestions in 1856 that he publish a short version of his …
  • … in persuading Darwin not to publish an abstract in 1856 , Darwin explained to whole affair to him …

Six things Darwin never said – and one he did


Spot the fakes! Darwin is often quoted – and as often misquoted. Here are some sayings regularly attributed to Darwin that never flowed from his pen.

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Spot the fakes! Darwin is often quoted – and as often misquoted. Here are some sayings regularly …

Dates of composition of Darwin's manuscript on species


Many of the dates of letters in 1856 and 1857 were based on or confirmed by reference to Darwin’s manuscript on species (DAR 8--15.1, inclusive; transcribed and published as Natural selection). This manuscript, begun in May 1856, was nearly completed by…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … Many of the dates of letters in 1856 and 1857 were based on or confirmed by reference to Darwin’s …
  • … as Natural selection ). This manuscript, begun in May 1856, was nearly completed by June 1858. At …
  • … 2 13 October 1856 [Variation under domestication] [2] …
  • … 11 13 October 1856 Geographical distribution (DAR 14; …
  • … 3 16 December 1856 On the possibility of all organic …



There are more than five hundred letters associated with the research and writing of Darwin’s book, Descent of man and selection in relation to sex (Descent). They trace not only the tortuous route to eventual publication, but the development of Darwin’s…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … research notes, including letters going back to at least 1856 . Among them were accounts of …

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: 27 hits

  • … [DAR *128: 160] Mansfield’s Paraguay [Mansfield 1856] } read Chesterton Prison Life …
  • … Hutchison Dog Breaking 3 d . Edit [Hutchinson 1856] new information on Pointer & Retriever …
  • … Annal des Sc. Nat. 4 th  Series. Bot. Vol 6 [Naudin 1856]. Read Notes to Jardine & …
  • … 1855 Sept. Tegetmeier on Poultry [Tegetmeier 1856–7] —— 27 th . Mem. de l’Acad. …
  • … Das Ganze der Landwirttschaft [Kirchhof 1835].— 1856. Jan 10 th  G. Colin Traite de …
  • … [Rudolphi 1812] [DAR 128: 16] 1856 Jan 21. Huc’s Chinese Empire [Huc …
  • … Mar 1 Veith Naturgeschichte Haussaugethiere [Veith 1856].— 3 d  Knox Races of Man.— 1850 [R …
  • … 1741–55] d[itt]o [DAR 128: 17] 1856 . Jan 28. Watt’s Life by Muirhead …
  • … [Pepys 1848–9]— April 21 Sandwitt Kars [Sandwith 1856]. [DAR 128: 18] March …
  • … 1851–6] —— Wollaston on Variation [Wollaston 1856] F. Smith on Apidæ [F. Smith 1855] …
  • … 1835 [H. C. Watson 1835] [DAR 128: 20] 1856 June 26. Davis J. Barnard. …
  • … 1855] —— 19 Von Tschudi Alpine life [Tschudi 1856] 30. Brehm Handbuch Vogel …
  • … 1857 Nov. 15. Andersson Lake Gnami [Andersson 1856] —— 26 Slightly skimmed Forbes …
  • … 1765] Oct. 23. Tracings of Iceland Chambers [Chambers 1856]. —— Mansfield Travels in …
  • … 2 vols July D r . Kane’s Arctic Voyage [Kane 1856] Sept. 12. Ch. Napiers Life …
  • … rubbish yet amusing Nov. 15. Tender & True [Spence] 1856]: H. Coverdale [Smedley [1854–6] …
  • … Travels I ever read) Sept. Froude Henry VIII [Froude 1856]. 4 vols very interesting. …
  • … —— 16 Zoologist [ Zoologist ]. up Vol. 14. 1856 May 9 th  Voyage au Pol. Sud. Consid. Gen …
  • … 1859 Feb. 28 Olmstead S. States [Olmsted 1856] (excellent) March 21. Mill on Liberty …
  • … The revised edition of Johnston’s  Physical atlas  (1856) included ‘Map of the distribution of …
  • … 113  The  Cottage Gardener  ceased publication in 1856. 114  CD marked this entry …
  • … vols. London.  119: 14a Andersson, Carl Johan. 1856.  Lake Ngami; or, explorations and   …
  • … [Darwin Library.]  119: 20a; *128: 173 ——. 1856.  Tracings of Iceland and the Faröe …
  • … [Other eds.]  119: 9a Chesterton, George Laval. 1856.  Revelations of prison life;   …
  • … 128: 5 Davis, Joseph Barnard and Thurnam, John. 1856–65.  Crania   Britannica. …
  • … Three visits to Madagascar during   the years 1853, 1854, 1856 . London.  128: 24 …
  • … . Lundæ.  *119: 5v. Froude, James Anthony. 1856.  History of England from the   fall of …

Before Origin: the ‘big book’


Darwin began ‘sorting notes for Species Theory’ on 9 September 1854, the very day he concluded his eight-year study of barnacles (Darwin's Journal). He had long considered the question of species. In 1842, he outlined a theory of transmutation in a…

Matches: 9 hits

  • … naturalist Edward Forbes. Darwin declared to Hooker in July 1856 ‘y ou continental extensionists …
  • … of his old friend, the geologist Charles Lyell, who, in May 1856, twenty months after Darwin had …
  • … urgency to publish and, following Lyell’s advice in May 1856, began to write a sketch his theory. ‘I …
  • … without full details. ’ Writing to his cousin Fox in June 1856, Darwin openly confessed his fears …
  • … work ’ he had ‘desisted’. By November 1856, he had both good and bad news to report to Lyell: ‘ …
  • … press. Although Darwin had decided in the autumn of 1856 to write only from the materials he …
  • … wrote ten and a half chapters of his Big Book between May 1856 and June 1858. With a total of …
  • … length ’, he had complained to Hooker in December 1856. By mid-1858, only the first chapter on …
  • … being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858 (Cambridge University …

Thomas Henry Huxley


Dubbed “Darwin’s bulldog” for his combative role in controversies over evolution, Huxley was a leading Victorian zoologist, science popularizer, and education reformer. He was born in Ealing, a small village west of London, in 1825. With only two years of…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Owen, and Louis Agassiz (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 May 1856 and 21 May 1856). But he considered …

Women’s scientific participation


Observers | Fieldwork | Experimentation | Editors and critics | Assistants Darwin’s correspondence helps bring to light a community of women who participated, often actively and routinely, in the nineteenth-century scientific community. Here is a…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … Letter 1836  - Berkeley, M. J. to Darwin, [7 March 1856] Clergyman and botanist …
  • … Letter 1836  - Berkeley, M. J. to Darwin, [7 March 1856] Clergyman and botanist Miles …

Hermann Müller


Hermann (Heinrich Ludwig Hermann) Müller, was born in Mühlberg near Erfurt in 1829. He was the younger brother of Fritz Müller (1822–97). Following the completion of his secondary education at Erfurt in 1848, he studied natural sciences at Halle and Berlin…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … it was the subject of his first scientific paper (Müller 1856). In the autumn of 1855, Müller …

Scientific Networks


Friendship|Mentors|Class|Gender In its broadest sense, a scientific network is a set of connections between people, places, and things that channel the communication of knowledge, and that substantially determine both its intellectual form and content,…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Letter 1979 — Darwin, C. R. to Lubbock, John, 27 Oct [1856] Darwin provides detailed …

Correlation of growth: deaf blue-eyed cats, pigs, and poison


As he was first developing his ideas, among the potential problems Darwin recognised with natural selection was how to account for developmental change that conferred no apparent advantage.  He proposed a ‘mysterious law’ of ‘correlation of growth’ where…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … to write up a ‘preliminary essay’ on his views in 1856, he went back to Fox to check his facts, …
  • … the African explorer and army surgeon William Daniell in 1856 was probably in reply to such a …

Begins 'Natural Selection'


Darwin begins writing his 'big book', Natural Selection. The book was never finished, but later formed the basis for On the Origin of Species

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Darwin begins writing his 'big book', Natural Selection. The book was never finished, but …

Language: key letters


How and why language evolved bears on larger questions about the evolution of the human species, and the relationship between man and animals. Darwin presented his views on the development of human speech from animal sounds in The Descent of Man (1871),…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … The origin of language was investigated in a wide range of disciplines in the nineteenth century. …

Tenth child born


The Darwins' tenth and last child, Charles Waring Darwin, is born

Matches: 1 hits

  • … The Darwins' tenth and last child, Charles Waring Darwin, is born …

The writing of "Origin"


From a quiet rural existence at Down in Kent, filled with steady work on his ‘big book’ on the transmutation of species, Darwin was jolted into action in 1858 by the arrival of an unexpected letter (no longer extant) from Alfred Russel Wallace outlining a…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … work preparing his ‘big book’ on species. Begun in May 1856 at the urging of Lyell, the manuscript …

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: 1 hits

  • … `big book’,  Natural selection , begun in 1856.  Coming hard on the heels of  The descent of man …

The expression of emotions


Darwin’s work on emotional expression, from notes in his Beagle diary and observations of his own children, to questionnaires, and experiments with photographs, was an integral part of his broad research on human evolution. It provided one of the main…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … his other children followed, and the record was kept through 1856. Darwin’s wife, Emma also recorded …
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