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Darwin Correspondence Project
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From W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   [20 January 1879]



H. N. Moseley says [in "Notes on plants collected and observed at the Admiralty Islands", J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 15 (1877): 77] pigeons eject seeds in fit state for germination. He regards pigeons as providing most efficient means of transport in Malayan Archipelago.

CD’s collected notes on geographical distribution would make a good book.

Author:  William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [20 Jan 1879]
Classmark:  DAR 205.2: 260
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-10341

To G. H. Darwin   [after 25 February 1879]


Frank [Darwin] has found a Trifolium remarkable for "bloom", but it was not in flower. If GHD knows where it grows, could he dig up the whole plant?

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Howard Darwin
Date:  [after 25 Feb 1879]
Classmark:  DAR 210.1: 76
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-10342

To W. T. Thiselton-Dyer   4 July [1879?]


Thanks WTT-D for Drosophyllum seeds.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Turner Thiselton-Dyer
Date:  4 July [1879?]
Classmark:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Darwin: Letters to Thiselton-Dyer, 1873–81: ff. 65–6)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11033

To Francis Darwin   3 June [1879]


Asks whether canary grass and oats have chlorophyll in their cotyledons.

Has been working hard at circumnutation of leaves to see whether sleep movements are exaggerated circumnutation.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Francis Darwin
Date:  3 June [1879]
Classmark:  DAR 211: 25
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11541

To Ann Marston   20 July [1879]


Will not sign a petition, for he feels vivisection is essential to the progress of physiology.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Ann Marston
Date:  20 July [1879]
Classmark:  DAR 202: 22
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11619

From James Torbitt   [1879?]


Has found no [potato] variety whose foliage can resist the parasite, except when grown under glass.

Author:  James Torbitt
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [1879?]
Classmark:  DAR 178: 151
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11814

To Francis Darwin   [4 February – 8 March 1879]


Requests some seeds.

Believes the leaves of Phyllanthus sleep like those of Cassia.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Francis Darwin
Date:  [4 Feb – 8 Mar 1879]
Classmark:  DAR 211: 49
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11815

To Francis Darwin?   [1879–80?]


Discusses A. B. Frank’s views [Beiträge zur Pflanzenphysiologie (1868)] on how plants position themselves; differences and similarities compared with their own conclusions.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Francis Darwin
Date:  [1879–80?]
Classmark:  Botany School Cambridge (in A. B. Frank, Beiträge zur Pflanzenphysiologie, 1868)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11816

To Albert Günther   1 January 1879


Thanks AG for his kind note and returns his good wishes.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Date:  1 Jan 1879
Classmark:  Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11817

From Marius Koch   3 January 1879


A young disciple wishes to know if reports of people with tails in New Guinea could be true.

Author:  Marius Koch
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  3 Jan 1879
Classmark:  DAR 169: 48
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11819

To A. S. Wilson   4 [June] 1879


Mentions wheat varieties sent by Governor General of Turkestan.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Alexander Stephen Wilson
Date:  4 [June] 1879
Classmark:  DAR 148: 366
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11820

To Edward Frankland   4 January [1879]


Fears that the promised bottle of pure water may have been despatched or stolen in passage. [See 11768a.]

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Edward Frankland
Date:  4 Jan [1879]
Classmark:  The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester (Frankland Collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11820A

From Mary Jung   7 January 1879


Young Austrian woman asks for CD’s autograph.

Author:  Mary Jung
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  7 Jan 1879
Classmark:  DAR 168: 94
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11821

From Carl Kraus   8 January 1879


A supporter of "the presumptive connection between socialism and evolution through natural selection" sends essays of Carl Vogt and requests CD to comment on them publicly.

Author:  Carl (Charles) Kraus
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Jan 1879
Classmark:  DAR 169: 104
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11822

To ?   9 January 1879


Thanks correspondent for the copies of his engraving. "The work seems to be, though I cannot pretend to be a judge, a vy fine production".

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Unidentified
Date:  9 Jan 1879
Classmark:  Dr Mirko Majer (private collection)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11823

From W. E. Darwin   9 January 1879


Sends figures on increase in value of North Western Railway stocks. Says consol stock considered much more secure for bankers. Does not think his own bank is in danger of a run. Is glad to see the Emperor of Prussia has confirmed CD’s appointment to Academy. Is snowing at Bassett.

Author:  William Erasmus Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  9 Jan 1879
Classmark:  Cornford Family Papers (DAR 275: 70)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11823F

To W. E. Darwin   10 January [1879]


G[eorge] has visited A[nthony] R[ich] at Worthing.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Erasmus Darwin
Date:  10 Jan [1879]
Classmark:  DAR 210.6: 152
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11824

From Leopold Würtenberger   10 January 1879


Asks about possibility of securing grant in England in order to complete work on ammonites. Describes progress. Could CD recommend him to a foundation? Describes personal background.

Author:  Leopold Würtenberger
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  10 Jan 1879
Classmark:  DAR 181: 184
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11825

To Mary Jung   11 January 1879


Suggests MJ does not worry about the differences in opinion between ecclesiastics and scientists.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Mary Jung
Date:  11 Jan 1879
Classmark:  J. A. Stargardt (dealer) (catalogue 681, 28–9 June 2005)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11825F

From C. H. Blackley   13 January 1879


Relates anecdote about a provincial girl’s reaction to being told men descended from monkeys.

Author:  Charles Harrison Blackley
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  13 Jan 1879
Classmark:  DAR 160: 194
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-11826
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18 Items

Darwin in letters, 1879: Tracing roots


Darwin spent a considerable part of 1879 in the eighteenth century. His journey back in time started when he decided to publish a biographical account of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin to accompany a translation of an essay on Erasmus’s evolutionary ideas…

Matches: 29 hits

  • … There are summaries of all Darwin's letters from the year 1879 on this website.  The full texts …
  • … Press . Darwin spent a considerable part of 1879 in the eighteenth century. His journey back …
  • … was ‘dry as dust’ ( letter to R. F. Cooke, 9 September 1879 ). He was also unsatisfied with his …
  • … me much’ ( letter to Francis Galton, 15 [June 1879] ). Even the prospect of a holiday in the Lake …
  • … ( letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, [after 26] July [1879] ). From July, Darwin had an additional …
  • … ‘a dismal time’ ( letter to Henry Johnson, 24 September 1879 ). He may have been consoled to learn …
  • … pear’ ( enclosure in letter from R. W. Dixon, 20 December 1879 ). The year ended with the start of …
  • … or gone some other way round?’ At least the last letter of 1879 contained a warmer note and the …
  • … marriage settlement ( letter from W. M. Hacon, 31 December 1879 ). Seventy years old …
  • … could be’ ( letter from Karl Beger, [ c. 12 February 1879] ). The masters of Greiz College …
  • … with glory’ ( letter from Ernst Haeckel, 9 February 1879 ). The botanist and schoolteacher …
  • … was carbon’ ( letter from Hermann Müller, 14 February 1879 ). Carus Sterne was the …
  • … ( letter from Francis Darwin, [after 2 June 1879 ]). As one of Darwin’s most ardent admirers, …
  • … he pointed out ( letter from E. A. Darwin, 13 March [1879 ]). Meanwhile, Darwin began searching …
  • … my grandfathers life’ ( letter to Ernst Krause, 14 March 1879 ). While searching for Seward …
  • … time Darwin came to investigate his grandfather’s life in 1879, however, not only was Erasmus Darwin …
  • … where, & the who—’ ( letter from V. H. Darwin, 28 May [1879] ). On the Galton side of the …
  • … in every way’ ( letter from E. A. Wheler, 25 March 1879 ). She suggested that Darwin contact their …
  • … with pride’ ( letter from Reginald Darwin, 29 March 1879 ). It was from Reginald that …
  • … with each other’ ( letter to Ernst Krause, 27 March 1879 ). Darwin’s aim was ‘to give some sort of …
  • … indispensable’ ( letter from Ernst Krause, 7 June 1879 ). Darwin welcomed Krause’s suggestion, but …
  • … He hates scientific men’ ( letter to Ernst Krause, 14 May 1879 ). From the start of his …
  • … to the public’ ( letter to Reginald Darwin, 10 April [1879] ). However, even members of Darwin’s …
  • … with little fatigue’ ( letter to G. H. Darwin, 12 July 1879 , and letter from Leonard Darwin, …
  • … life of D r . D’ ( letter to Francis Darwin, 12 July [1879] ). It was little consolation that …
  • … his ‘tether’ ( letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 5 June 1879 , and letter to G. H. Darwin, 12 July …
  • … of his ‘proper work’ ( letter to James Paget, 14 July 1879 ). At this time, his proper work was …
  • … they intended to publish their results as a book. By June 1879, Darwin was completing an …
  • … roots of seedlings ( letter to Francis Darwin, 16 June [1879] ). Francis in Würzburg …

Volume 27 (1879) now published


In 1879, Darwin continued his research on movement in plants and researched, wrote, and published a short biography of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin as an introduction to a translation of an essay by Ernst Krause on Erasmus’s scientific work. Darwin’s son…

Matches: 8 hits

  • … In 1879, Darwin continued his research on movement in plants and researched, …
  • … now available. Read more about Darwin's life in 1879 in our Life in letters series …
  • … such a job. ( Letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 December [1879] ) In early 1879, as a tribute …
  • … .  ( Letter to the Darwin children, 21 February 1879 ) Just over a week after his …
  • … irritations  ( Letter t o Francis Darwin, 2 July [1879] ) Darwin regarded his …
  • … the country .  ( Letter to T. H. Farrer, 23 October 1879 ) During the year Darwin …
  • … of the theory of natural selection. Nothing came of it in 1879, but it was to bear fruit later. He …
  • … strong health .  ( Letter to T. H. Farrer, 13 October 1879 ) Darwin wrote this to his …

Darwin’s student booklist


In October 1825 Charles Darwin and his older brother, Erasmus, went to study medicine in Edinburgh, where their father, Robert Waring Darwin, had trained as a doctor in the 1780’s. Erasmus had already graduated from Cambridge and was continuing his studies…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … it was first published in 1804. On rereading this work in 1879 Darwin judged it ‘a wretched …

Life of Erasmus Darwin


The Life of Erasmus Darwin (1879) was a curious departure for Darwin. It was intended as a biographical note to accompany an essay on Erasmus's scientific work by the German writer Ernst Krause. But Darwin became immersed in his grandfather's…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … The Life of Erasmus Darwin (1879) was a curious departure for Darwin. It was intended as a …
  • … the book into grist for controversy.  In February 1879, Darwin received an unusual birthday …
  • … my grandfathers life ', Darwin wrote to Krause on 14 March 1879. He made contact with family …
  • … my tether '. The book was published in November of 1879. Darwin filled his notice with …
  • … whose Evolution Old and New had been published in May of 1879, had not failed to find the …

Power of movement in plants


Sources|Discussion Questions|Experiment Family experiments Darwin was an active and engaged father during his children's youth, involving them in his experiments and even occasionally using them as observational subjects. When his children…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Letter 12152 - Francis Darwin to Darwin, 12 July 1879 Francis writes to his father …

Fake Darwin: myths and misconceptions


Many myths have persisted about Darwin's life and work. Here are a few of the more pervasive ones, with full debunking below...

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Many myths have persisted about Darwin's life and work. Here are a few of the more pervasive ones, …



Design|Personal Belief|Beauty|The Church Perhaps the most notorious realm of controversy over evolution in Darwin's day was religion. The same can be said of the evolution controversy today; however the nature of the disputes and the manner in…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Letter 12041 — Darwin, C. R. to Fordyce, John, 7 May 1879 In this letter marked “private”, …

Suggested reading


  Contemporary writing Anon., The English matron: A practical manual for young wives, (London, 1846). Anon., The English gentlewoman: A practical manual for young ladies on their entrance to society, (Third edition, London, 1846). Becker, L. E.…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Buckley, A.,  The fairy-land of science , (London, 1879; Philadelphia 1888). Holmes, M. …

Dramatisation script


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

Matches: 1 hits

  • … 1872 208  JD HOOKER TO C DARWIN, 29 NOVEMBER 1879 209 A GRAY, 1882, …

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

  • … fought against this restriction, with a work published in 1879 promoting the value of presenting …

Darwin's works in letters


Another present for Darwin's birthday: five new pages are added to our Works in letters section on the 'big book' before Origin, Origin itself, the subsequent editions of Origin, Orchids, and the Life of Erasmus Darwin. These complement…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … plants (1875) The Life of Erasmus Darwin (1879)     …

Discussion Questions and Essay Questions


There are a wide range of possibilities for opening discussion and essay writing on Darwin’s correspondence.  We have provided a set of sample discussion questions and essay questions, each of which focuses on a particular topic or correspondent in depth.…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Boole (1864), F. E. Abbot (1871-4), John Fordyce (1879), William Graham (1881)] How did Darwin …

Interview with Randal Keynes


Randal Keynes is a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, and the author of Annie’s Box (Fourth Estate, 2001), which discusses Darwin’s home life, his relationship with his wife and children, and the ways in which these influenced his feelings about…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … and daughter to take a holiday in the Lake District, and in 1879 he went to the Lake District, and …

Bartholomew James Sulivan


On Christmas Day 1866, Bartholomew Sulivan sat down to write a typically long and chatty letter to his old friend, Charles Darwin, commiserating on shared ill-health, glorying in the achievements of their children, offering to collect plant specimens, and…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … his former shipmates to support the mission’s work .  In 1879 he persuaded ‘the Beagles’ to adopt …

What did Darwin believe?


What did Darwin really believe about God? the Christian revelation? the implications of his theory of evolution for religious faith? These questions were asked again and again in the years following the publication of Origin of species (1859). They are…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … In what is perhaps his most revealing response, a letter in 1879 to John Fordyce, an author of works …

Fritz Müller


Fritz Müller, a German who spent most of his life in political exile in Brazil, described Darwin as his second father, and Darwin's son, Francis, wrote that, although they never met 'the correspondence with Müller, which continued to the close of…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Transactions of the Entomological society of London in 1879 on Darwin’s suggestion . Müller …

John Murray


Darwin's most famous book On the origin of species by means of natural selection (Origin) was published on 22 November 1859. The publisher was John Murray, who specialised in non-fiction, particularly politics, travel and science, and had published…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … profits ( Letter 12219 ), and the book was published in 1879. The following year Darwin …

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: 1 hits

  • … 9  CD did not follow his own advice. In 1879, he stated that he had unbounded respect for …