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From S. P. Woodward   4 June 1856



SPW and Waterhouse agree on island faunas; gives Australia and Tasmania as examples. The "stream of migration" from Asia to Tasmania.

Looks forward eagerly to the publication of CD’s "specific" researches.

Invites CD to send his memoranda [on Manual of Mollusca].

Author:  Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  4 June 1856
Classmark:  DAR 205.3: 303
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1889

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


Queries from CD on the distribution of molluscan genera referring to SPW’s Manual of the Mollusca [pt 3 (1856)], with SPW’s answers.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Date:  [after 4 June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 72: 59–61
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1890

From Hewett Cottrell Watson   5 June 1856


Answers CD’s questions about plants common to U. S. and Britain and their distribution in Europe.

Variability of agrarian weeds.

Author:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  5 June 1856
Classmark:  DAR 181: 32
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1891

To W. B. D. Mantell   5 June [1856–9]


Thanks WBDM for the particulars on the iceberg.

Will look up the barnacle specimen to which he refers at British Museum.

WBDM should remember when he returns to New Zealand that aboriginal rat and frog are "great desiderata in Natural History".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Walter Baldock Durrant Mantell
Date:  5 June [1856-9]
Classmark:  Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand (MS-Papers-0083-268)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1892

To T. V. Wollaston   6 June [1856]


Comments on TVW’s book [On the variation of species with special reference to the Insecta (1856)].

On TVW’s Unitarianism. Predicts TVW will fall further away from Christianity.

[Letter sent by TVW to Charles Lyell.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Thomas Vernon Wollaston
Date:  6 June [1856]
Classmark:  Edinburgh University Library, Centre for Research Collections (Gen. 1999/1/30)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1893

To Edgar Leopold Layard   8 June [1856]


Admires ELL’s plan to visit Madagascar.

Asks about fertility of hybrid cats, crosses among dogs in Africa, and appearance of feral pigeons at Ascension. Doubts existence of N. African greyhound.

Asks for specimens of pigeons and ducks from the Cape of Good Hope.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edgar Leopold Layard
Date:  8 June [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.143)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1894

To W. D. Fox   8 [June 1856]


The responses to his queries on domestic variations are coming in from all over; believes he will make an interesting collection. At present concerned with rabbits and ducks.

Has told Lyell of his views on species and CL urges CD to publish a preliminary essay. Has begun to work on it, with fear and trembling at its inadequacies.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  8 [June 1856]
Classmark:  University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Special Collections (Pearce/Darwin Fox collection RBSC-ARC-1721-1-10)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1895

To John Lubbock   [8 June 1856]


Wishes to borrow fly pincers for his son George.

Discusses T. V. Wollaston’s book on insect variation [On the variation of species (1856)].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Date:  [8 June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 263: 4 (EH 88206452)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1896

From E. L. Layard   [September–October 1856]



Preference of stallions for hybrid mares.

Author:  Edgar Leopold Layard
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [Sept–Oct 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 83: 185–6
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1897

From H. C. Watson   10 June 1856


Evidence relevant to E. Forbes’s land-bridge theory.

Author:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  10 June 1856
Classmark:  DAR 181: 33
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1898

To H. C. Watson   [after 10 June 1856]



Do the plants that are common to Europe and North America nearly all live north of the Arctic Circle? CD bases his question on HCW’s "capital" comparison between relations of Europe to North America and Europe to E. Asia if the intervening land had been submerged. CD has been led to speculate that in the mid-Pliocene the organisms now living in middle Europe and northern U. S. lived within the Arctic Circle. Subsequent movements of this flora with advance and retreat of glaciers would explain present distribution better than Forbes’s vast submergences.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Date:  [after 10 June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 185: 52
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1899

To John Lubbock   12 [June 1856]


Smallpox in the village. Death of Joseph Parslow’s son.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Date:  12 [June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 263: 3 (EH 88206450)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1900

To E. W. V. Harcourt   12 June [1856]


Would like to compare the length of the wings of non-migratory and migratory swallows.

Wonders if EWVH could show him skins of Columba livia.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edward William Vernon Harcourt
Date:  12 June [1856]
Classmark:  Bodleian Libraries, Oxford (MS. Harcourt dep. adds. 346, fols. 252–4)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1900F

To W. D. Fox   14 June [1856]


Does not intend to work systematically on cats. Their origin is in doubt and they have been crossed too many ways.

It would be valuable to know whether half-bred ducks are fertile inter se or with a third breed. Is investigating this with pigeons.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  14 June [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 98)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1901

To Charles Lyell   16 [June 1856]


Condemns theory of Edward Forbes and others that many islands were formerly connected to South America by now submerged continents.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Date:  16 [June 1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.131)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1902

To J. S. Henslow   16 June [1856]


Sends a cultivated specimen of Myosotis (first generation) grown from seed sent by JSH. Asks for a tuft of flower.

Hopes JSH will publish a book on teaching botany, because he has no idea how to begin with his children.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  16 June [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A110–11
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1903

To J. D. Hooker   17–8 [June 1856]



Comments on Huxley–Falconer dispute [see "On the method of palaeontology", Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. 18 (1856): 43–54].

Wollaston’s On the variation of species [1856].

Has exploded to Lyell against the extension of continents.

Plants common to Europe and NW. America as result of temperate climate.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  17–18 [June 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 114: 170
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1904

From Charles Lyell   17 June 1856


CD forgets an author [CD himself in Coral reefs] "who, by means of atolls, contrived to submerge archipelagoes (or continents?), the mountains of which must originally have differed from each other in height 8,000 (or 10,000?) feet".

CL begins to think that all continents and oceans are chiefly post-Eocene, but he admits that it is questionable how far one is at liberty to call up continents "to convey a Helix from the United States to Europe in Miocene or Pliocene periods".

Will CD explain why the land and marine shells of Porto Santo and Madeira differ while the plants so nearly agree?

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  17 June 1856
Classmark:  DAR 146: 475
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1905

To Robert Everest?   18 June [1856]


Seeks to verify whether bulldogs have degenerated in India [see Variation 1: 37–8].

CD has "sometimes gone so far as to doubt whether climate has any influence even on colour".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Robert Everest
Date:  18 June [1856]
Classmark:  Barbara and Robert Pincus (private collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1906

From H. C. Watson   20 June 1856


Conveys [? J. T. I. Boswell-]Syme’s opinion of variability of agrarian weeds and ranges of species common to U. S. and W. Europe. The Hispano-Hibernian connection.

Author:  Hewett Cottrell Watson
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  20 June 1856
Classmark:  DAR 181: 34
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1907
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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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