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Darwin Correspondence Project

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Six things Darwin never said – and one he did

Summary

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 …

Darwin in letters, 1856-1857: the 'Big Book'

Summary

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: 11 hits

  • … of information about his preoccupations during 1856 and 1857. They reveal little noticed aspects of …
  • … as ever I can.’ ( letter to W. D. Fox, 8 February [1857] ). Darwin also attempted to test …
  • … the alpine plants pretty effectually’ complained Darwin in 1857 ( letter to J. D. Hooker, [2 May …
  • … of calculation was wrong ( letter to John Lubbock, 14 July [1857] ). Darwin thought his results …
  • … experiments on plants through the summers of 1856 and 1857, particularly with garden vegetables like …
  • … Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette  in October 1857, to be followed by a second notice in 1858. …
  • … find the work: am I not a kind Father?’ Darwin wrote in 1857, soon followed by the complaint ‘You …
  • … to end!’ (letters to W. E. Darwin, [17 February 1857] and 21 [July 1857] ). The problem of …
  • … of his manuscript ( letter to A. R. Wallace, 1 May 1857 ) seem innocuous and hardly the veiled …
  • … are all vividly displayed in Darwin's letters. By the end of 1857, Darwin was well on the way …
  • … long letter to Asa Gray ( letter to Asa Gray, 5 September [1857] ). From this letter it is evident …

Darwin and Down

Summary

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: 1 hits

  • … was in Darwin’s day.  To J. D. Hooker,  3 June [1857] :  on the struggle for existence in …

Language: key letters

Summary

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

  • … 2070: Wedgwood, Hensleigh to Darwin, C. R., [before 29 Sept 1857] Darwin’s brother-in-law, …

Abstract of Darwin’s theory

Summary

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

  • … natural selection. One was sent to Asa Gray on 5 September 1857, enclosed with a letter of the same …
  • … to Prof. Asa Gray, Boston, U.S., dated Down, September 5th, 1857.” (Darwin and Wallace 1858, p. 50). …
  • … was sent to A. Gray 8 or 9 months ago, I think October 1857 [‘or perhaps’  del ]’. The printed …

Dramatisation script

Summary

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

Matches: 4 hits

  • … the Origin of Species…’ FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH: 1857-1858 In which Gray and Hooker …
  • … JUNE 1855 20  C DARWIN TO A GRAY, 1 JANUARY 1857 21  A GRAY TO C DARWIN, …
  • … MARCH 1862 35  C DARWIN TO A GRAY, 1 JANUARY 1857 36  A GRAY TO C DARWIN …
  • … OCTOBER 1858 59 A GRAY TO JD HOOKER, 12 OCTOBER 1857 60 A GRAY TO JD HOOKER, …

The "wicked book": Origin at 157

Summary

Origin is 157 years old.  (Probably) the most famous book in science was published on 24 November 1859.  To celebrate we have uploaded hundreds of new images of letters, bringing the total number you can look at here to over 9000 representing more than…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … ’s appearance, but there is a fascinating scrap from 1857 comparing his views on species to …

Natural Selection: the trouble with terminology Part I

Summary

Darwin encountered problems with the term ‘natural selection’ even before Origin appeared.  Everyone from the Harvard botanist Asa Gray to his own publisher came up with objections. Broadly these divided into concerns either that its meaning simply wasn’t…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … written in 1842 , and, as he told Asa Gray in September 1857 , he intended to call the ‘ big …

Dates of composition of Darwin's manuscript on species

Summary

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: 7 hits

  • … Many of the dates of letters in 1856 and 1857 were based on or confirmed by reference to Darwin’s …
  • … 4 26 January 1857 Variation under nature (DAR 9; …
  • … 5 3 March 1857 The struggle for existence as bearing on …
  • … 6 31 March 1857 On natural selection (DAR 10.2; …
  • … 7 29 September 1857 Laws of variation: varieties & …
  • … 8 29 September 1857 Difficulties on the theory of …
  • … 9 29 December 1857 Hybridism (DAR 12; Natural …

The evolution of honeycomb

Summary

Honeycombs are natural engineering marvels, using the least possible amount of wax to provide the greatest amount of storage space, with the greatest possible structural stability. Darwin recognised that explaining the evolution of the honey-bee’s comb…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … of other cells. (Letter from G. R. Waterhouse, 14 April 1857 .) In a later letter …

Darwin's bad days

Summary

Despite being a prolific worker who had many successes with his scientific theorising and experimenting, even Darwin had some bad days. These times when nothing appeared to be going right are well illustrated by the following quotations from his letters:

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Despite being a prolific worker who had many successes with his scientific theorising and …

Darwin’s study of the Cirripedia

Summary

Darwin’s work on barnacles, conducted between 1846 and 1854, has long posed problems for historians. Coming between his transmutation notebooks and the Origin of species, it has frequently been interpreted as a digression from Darwin’s species work. Yet…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … a high compliment when he touched upon this matter in his 1857 lecture on cirripedes. In his praise …
  • … and not an anatomist ex professo .’ (T. H. Huxley 1857, p. 238 n.).    While Darwin’s …
  • … nos. 2118 and 2119, letter to T. H. Huxley, 5 July [1857] , and letter from T. H. Huxley, 7 …

Scientific Networks

Summary

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: 2 hits

  • … Letter 2125 — Darwin, C. R. to Gray, Asa, 20 July [1857] Darwin writes a challenging letter …
  • … of the ephippium”, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 147 (1857): 79–100]. Darwin and Müller …

Women’s scientific participation

Summary

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

  • … 2055  - Langton, E. to Darwin,  F., [21 February 1857] Darwin’s nephew, Edmund, …
  • … Letter 2069  - Tenant, J. to Darwin, [31 March 1857] James Tenant, keeper of the …

Alfred Russel Wallace

Summary

Wallace was a leading Victorian naturalist, with wide-ranging interests from biogeography and evolutionary theory to spiritualism and politics. He was born in 1823 in Usk, a small town in south-east Wales, and attended a grammar school in Hertford. At the…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … and most famously, the problem of species change. In 1857, Darwin and Wallace exchanged …
  • … observations and theoretical abilities. In a letter of 1 May 1857, he alluded to his own unfinished …
  • … Science … may all your theories succeed” (22 December 1857). It may have been this shared interest …

Before Origin: the ‘big book’

Summary

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: 7 hits

  • … ago’, he wrote to the American botanist Asa Gray in July 1857, it occurred to me that …
  • … staggered about the permanence of species.— By 1857, Darwin had found the confidence to …
  • … And this much acceleration I owe to you. ’ In February 1857, the rate of this acceleration was …
  • … the way facts fall into groups ’, he told Fox in February 1857. Trials of strength …
  • … in theory of the descent of species ’. In December 1857, Darwin had expressed his satisfaction that …
  • … there is no good & original observation ’. In 1857, Darwin recorded in his journal that …
  • … varieties differ from each other’, he told Wallace in May 1857, before stating ‘ I am now preparing …

The writing of "Origin"

Summary

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: 3 hits

  • … completed his ninth chapter, on hybridism, on 29 December 1857, Darwin began in January 1858 to …
  • … on variation under nature. Having learned in the summer of 1857 that his method for deriving …
  • … with an abstract of his views sent to Asa Gray in September 1857. The correspondence between Darwin, …

Darwin’s reading notebooks

Summary

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: 21 hits

  • … 112 Jukes. “Students Manual of Geology” [Jukes 1857]— published a few years ago, good on …
  • … Lucas l’Heredite Naturelle [Lucas 1847–50] 1857 Nov. 15. Andersson Lake Gnami …
  • … Thackeray English Humourists [Thackeray 1853] 1857 Jan. Cockburn life of Selby [ …
  • … 1856]: H. Coverdale [Smedley [1854–6]: Quits [Tautphoeus] 1857] 29 Lutfullah. Life of …
  • … Marsh] 1858] Buckle History of Civilisation [Buckle 1857] Feb. 28 Sir J. Mackintosh …
  • … Oct. 22. Olmstead Journey through Texas [Olmsted 1857] Dec. Motley’s History of Dutch …
  • … 1853]— Aug.— Sherard Osborne’s Quedah [Osborn 1857] d[itt]o d[itt]o Arctic Journal …
  • … Harris 1842] Jukes Student Manual of Geology [Jukes 1857] Azara’s Quadrupeds [Azara …
  • … *119: 18v.; 119: 8a, 21a Buckle, Henry Thomas. 1857.  History of civilization in   …
  • … 21v., 22; 119: 19a Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn. 1857.  The life of Charlotte   Brontë . …
  • … [Abstract in DAR 205.3: 138.]  119: 20a ——. 1857.  The student’s manual of geology. …
  • … [Other eds.]  *119: 15v. Livingstone, David. 1857.  Missionary travels and   researches …
  • … 3 vols. Vivay. [Other eds.]  *119: 22 Lutfullah. 1857.  Autobiography of Lutfullah: a …
  • … *119: 23; 128: 5 Napier, William Francis Patrick. 1857.  The life and opinions of General …
  • … of   Elgin’s mission to China and Japan in the years 1857, 1858,   1859 . 2 vols. Edinburgh and …
  • … on their economy . New York.  128: 25 ——. 1857.  A journey through Texas; or, a winter …
  • …  an Arctic journal\. London.  128: 25 ——. 1857.  Quedah; or, stray leaves from a journal …
  • … Rouvroy, Louis de, Duke de Saint-Simon Vermandois. 1857.  The memoirs of the Duke of Saint Simon on …
  • … [Other eds.]  *119: 1v.; 119: 12a Smiles, Samuel. 1857.  The life of George Stephenson, …
  • …  New York.  *128: 178 [Tautphoeus, Jemima von]. 1857.  Quits; a novel . 3 vols. London.  …
  • … . Edited by J. C. Morris. Madras. 1833–51. Second series, 1857–. [Abstract in DAR 74: 177.]  *119: …

Divergence

Summary

In a later account of how he had come to the evolutionary ideas published in Origin, Darwin wrote: 'Of all the minor points, the last which I appreciated was the importance & cause of the principle of Divergence' (to Ernst Haeckel, [after 10]…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … principle by name in a letter to Joseph Hooker in August 1857, but didn't explain what he …

Darwin in letters, 1858-1859: Origin

Summary

The years 1858 and 1859 were, without doubt, the most momentous of Darwin’s life. From a quiet rural existence filled with steady work on his ‘big book’ on species, he was jolted into action by the arrival of an unexpected letter from Alfred Russel Wallace…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … completed his ninth chapter, on hybridism, on 29 December 1857, Darwin began in January 1858 to …
  • … on variation under nature. Having learned in the summer of 1857 that his method for deriving …
  • … with an abstract of his views sent to Asa Gray in September 1857. The correspondence between Darwin, …
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