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To William Darwin Fox   3 January [1856]


Thanks WDF for his help and reports on progress in "the Cock and Hen line of business". Has written to every quarter of the world for skins of poultry and pigeons.

As for seeds, Hooker and Bentham obstinately refuse to believe they can live even a few years in the ground.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  3 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 86)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1815

To John Stevens Henslow   3 January [1856]


Thanks for JSH’s letter, which has been of real use.

Complains of the trouble caused by reports to Government required of Benefit Clubs.

Interested in case of Canada geese with seed in crop, because means of distribution is now a great hobby.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  3 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A106–A107
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1816

To John Davy   3 January [1856]


Delighted to hear that JD’s research is continuing. CD has heard that JD’s paper will at last be published. He is flattered by the form [as a letter addressed to CD] of communication. [See 1651a and 1819a, published in Phil. Trans. R. S. 146 (1856): 21–9 and Proc. R. S. London 8 (1856–7): 27–33.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Davy
Date:  3 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  David Schulson Autographs, New York (1991)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1816A

From Edward Blyth   8 January [1856]


Encloses "notes for Mr. D" [see 1818] and a memorandum on the wild cattle of southern India [see 1819].

Breeds of silky fowl of China and Malaya. Black-skinned fowl.

Doubts any breed of canary has siskin blood; all remain true to their type.

Wild canary and finch hybrids.

Hybrids between one- and two-humped camels.

Does not regard zebra markings on asses as an indication of interbreeding but as one of the many instances of markings in the young which more or less disappear in the adult.

Crossing of Coracias species at the edges of their ranges.

Regional variations and intergrading between species of pigeons.

Regards the differences in Treron as specific [see Natural selection, p. 115 n. 1].

Gives other instances of representative species or races differing only in certain details of colouring.

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 98: A110–13, A117–21
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1817

From Charles Wade Crump to Edward Blyth   [before 8 January 1856]


Reports upon a breed of wild cattle found in southern India. The herd is reputedly descended from a wild, red bull that mated with tame cows.

[This memorandum was forwarded to CD enclosed with 1817.]

Author:  Charles Crump
Addressee:  Edward Blyth
Date:  [before 8 Jan 1856]
Classmark:  DAR 98: A114–A116
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1819

From John Davy   10 January 1856


On the vitality of the ova of the Salmonidae at different stages of development.

Author:  John Davy
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  10 Jan 1856
Classmark:  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 8 (1856–7): 27–33
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1819A

To W. B. Tegetmeier   14 January [1856]


Is attempting to get skins of poultry from all quarters of the world. Wants to inspect poultry collections.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Date:  14 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1820

To John Edward Gray   14 January [1856]


Requests that JEG secure the assistance of Samuel Birch in regard to information about varieties of domesticated animals and plants in China. Encloses memorandum.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Edward Gray
Date:  14 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  British Museum (Department of the Middle East, correspondence 1826–67: 1490, 1488)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1820A

To W. B. Tegetmeier   [1 February 1856]


Has been invited to see Mr Bult’s pigeons.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Date:  [1 Feb 1856]
Classmark:  Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1821

To John Phillips   18 January [1856]


Discusses chapter [6] on cleavage and foliation in South America. Notes especially cleavage where two series cross and cleavage as basis of foliation in metamorphosed rock. Notes foliation in rocks that have been liquefied by heat. Mentions case described in his "Geology of the Falkland Islands" [Collected papers 1: 203–12]. Discusses relationship of cleavage to beds. Speculations on association between grauwacke and clay-slates.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Phillips
Date:  18 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.122)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1822

To J. E. Gray   19 January [1856]


Is obliged for JEG’s assistance.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Edward Gray
Date:  19 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  British Museum (Department of the Middle East, correspondence 1826–67: 1491)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1822A

To J. S. Henslow   22 January [1856]


Alphonse de Candolle’s Géographie botanique [raisonnée (1855)] strikes him as a wonderful, admirable work.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  22 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  DAR 93: A108–A109
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1823

To Walter Elliot   23 January 1856


Requests WE’s measurements of tigers.

Asks about a work on domestic pigeons in an Eastern language. Will consult [Ayeen Akbery or, the institutes of the Emperor Akber, trans. from Persian by Francis Gladwin, 2 vols. (1777, 1800)].

Asks for specimen skins of domestic pigeons and poultry. [See Variation 1: 205.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Walter Elliot
Date:  23 Jan 1856
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.123)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1824

From Edward Blyth   23 January 1856


Believes the goldfish originates from a wild, gold variety of Chinese carp.

Gallinaceous birds.

Crested turkeys.

EB divides the gallinaceous birds into five families on anatomical distinctions.

Wild dog species of India and Asia; ranges of some species, specific identity of others.

The fauna of the Seychelles.

Breeding of fowls in India and Africa.

Occurrence of turkeys in Africa.

Refers to some of his own papers giving fuller details of points raised previously.

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  23 Jan 1856
Classmark:  DAR 98: A122–A125
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1825

To Katharine Murray Lyell   26 January [1856]


Suggests that J. E. Gray and/or G. R. Waterhouse might be willing to set her butterfly collection. Recommends that her children should collect their own butterflies.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Katharine Murray Horner; Katharine Murray Lyell
Date:  26 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.124)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1827

To John Phillips   28 January [1856]


Thanks JP for beautiful book [? The rivers, mountains and sea-coast of Yorkshire, 2d ed. (1855)].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Phillips
Date:  28 Jan [1856]
Classmark:  Oxford University Museum of Natural History Archive Collections (John Phillips collection))
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1828

To William Yarrell   6 [February 1856]


"The Pigeons are all quite well".

Sends thanks to Mrs Cotton.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Yarrell
Date:  6 [Feb 1856]
Classmark:  Cleveland Health Sciences Library
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1829

To Samuel Birch   6 February [1856]


Is grateful for SB’s note and assistance. Will call upon him in London in a fortnight.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Samuel Birch
Date:  6 Feb [1856]
Classmark:  British Museum (Department of the Middle East, correspondence 1826–67: 1492)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1829A

From Charles James Fox Bunbury   7 February 1856


Has heard CD is much interested in questions relating to varieties and species. Mentions a case of a seminal variety of Colletia spinosa, described by John Lindley, which appears identical with another wild species of Colletia from S. America. Hopes CD will one day "enlighten us very much" on "the laws of species". There are many different views on the limits of species; M. F. Dunal made 50 species of Solanum which George Bentham considers are all varieties of S. nigrum.

Author:  Charles James Fox Bunbury, 8th baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  7 Feb 1856
Classmark:  DAR 160: 374, DAR 205.4: 97
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1830

From Edward Blyth   23 February 1856


Opposition to EB within the Asiatic Society.

Possibility of establishment of a zoological garden at Calcutta.

Has seen Gallus varius alive for the first time.

Will procure domestic pigeons for CD; could CD pay for them by returning hardy creatures, such as macaws and marmosets, which EB can sell for a high price in India?

Does not recall his authority for genealogy of the asses of Oman. If a genuine wild ass exists EB believes it will be in south Arabia.

Infertility of Irish and Devon red deer.

Details of an unusual species of wild dog.

Fertility of canine hybrids. General tendency toward hybrid sterility.

Has skins of hybrid Coracias and the parent species.

Wide-ranging species; skua found in Europe and Australia, but not in the tropics.

Author:  Edward Blyth
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  23 Feb 1856
Classmark:  DAR 98: A128–A132
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1832
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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 …

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 …

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. …

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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