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Darwin Correspondence Project

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Darwin in letters, 1875: Pulling strings

Summary

‘I am getting sick of insectivorous plants’, Darwin confessed in January 1875. He had worked on the subject intermittently since 1859, and had been steadily engaged on a book manuscript for nine months; January also saw the conclusion of a bitter dispute…

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Referencing women’s work

Summary

Darwin's correspondence shows that women made significant contributions to Darwin's work, but whether and how they were acknowledged in print involved complex considerations of social standing, professional standing, and personal preference.…

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  • … input. Letter 8719 - Darwin to Treat, M., [1 January 1873] Darwin asks …
  • … Letter 8193 - Ruck, A. R. to Darwin, H., [1 February 1872] Amy Ruck sends a …

Eliza Burt Gamble

Summary

Women have interpreted and applied evolutionary theory in arguments about women’s nature for over a century. Eliza Burt Gamble (1841-1920) was a pioneer in this endeavor. Gamble was an advocate of the Woman Movement, a mother, a writer, and a teacher from…

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  • … but were not physically necessary for reproduction itself. [1]  According to Darwin, secondary …
  • … Written by Katie Ericksen Baca [1]   Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and …

Darwin in letters, 1878: Movement and sleep

Summary

In 1878, Darwin devoted most of his attention to the movements of plants. He investigated the growth pattern of roots and shoots, studying the function of specific organs in this process. Working closely with his son Francis, Darwin devised a series of…

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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…

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  • … selection might work in nature ( letter from Charles Lyell, 1–2 May 1856, n. 10 ). He was …
  • … & eternal hermaphrodite’ ( letter to to T. H. Huxley, 1 July [1856] ), which became a source …

Darwin as mentor

Summary

Darwin provided advice, encouragement and praise to his fellow scientific 'labourers' of both sexes. Selected letters Letter 2234 - Darwin to Unidentified, [5 March 1858] Darwin advises that Professor C. P. Smyth’s observations are not…

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  • … Letter 9580 - Darwin to Darwin, G. H. D., [1 August 1874] Darwin gives feedback on work …

Journal of researches

Summary

Within two months of the Beagle’s arrival back in England in October 1836, Darwin, although busy with distributing his specimens among specialists for description, and more interested in working on his geological research, turned his mind to the task of…

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  • … Narrative would ‘ not be published till November 1 st . ’ By 18 May, Darwin was working ‘very …
  • … after the first manuscript pages had been sent off.  On 1 August 1837, he reminded the dilatory …

Darwin's in letters, 1873: Animal or vegetable?

Summary

Having laboured for nearly five years on human evolution, sexual selection, and the expression of emotions, Darwin was able to devote 1873 almost exclusively to his beloved plants. He resumed work on the digestive powers of sundews and Venus fly traps, and…

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Darwin in letters, 1879: Tracing roots

Summary

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…

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  • … well known philosopher and poet’ ( Correspondence vol. 1, letter from Francis Beaufort to …

People featured in the Dutch photograph album

Summary

List of people appearing in the photograph album Darwin received from scientific admirers in the Netherlands for his birthday on 12 February 1877. We are grateful to Hester Loeff for providing this list and for permission to make her research available.…

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  • … Place of death Notes 1 Abeleven Th. H.A.J …

Darwin and the Church

Summary

The story of Charles Darwin’s involvement with the church is one that is told far too rarely. It shows another side of the man who is more often remembered for his personal struggles with faith, or for his role in large-scale controversies over the…

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Darwin’s observations on his children

Summary

Charles Darwin’s observations on the development of his children, began the research that culminated in his book The Expression of the emotions in man and animals, published in 1872, and his article ‘A biographical sketch of an infant’, published in Mind…

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  • … Darwin’s observations on the development of his children,[1] began the research that culminated in …
  • … self-consciousness. Transcription: 1 [9] W. Erasmus. Darwin born. Dec. 27 th …

Darwin in letters, 1864: Failing health

Summary

On receiving a photograph from Charles Darwin, the American botanist Asa Gray wrote on 11 July 1864: ‘the venerable beard gives the look of your having suffered, and … of having grown older’.  Because of poor health, Because of poor health, Darwin…

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New material added to the American edition of Origin

Summary

A ‘revised and augmented’ American edition of Origin came on the market in July 1860, and was the only authorised edition available in the US until 1873. It incorporated many of the changes Darwin made to the second English edition, but still contained…

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  • … Edition with additional corrections” (letter to Asa Gray, 1 February [1860]). By 1 May 1860, …

Darwin in letters, 1877: Flowers and honours

Summary

Ever since the publication of Expression, Darwin’s research had centred firmly on botany. The year 1877 was no exception. The spring and early summer were spent completing Forms of flowers, his fifth book on a botanical topic. He then turned to the…

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  • … red cabbage were traced over time: ‘Bristle was gummed to 1 Cot. & beyond it a triangular bit of …

Earthworms

Summary

As with many of Darwin’s research topics, his interest in worms spanned nearly his entire working life. Some of his earliest correspondence about earthworms was written and received in the 1830s, shortly after his return from his Beagle voyage, and his…

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  • … Letter 8137 - William Darwin to Charles Darwin, 1 January 1872 Darwin’s eldest son …
  • … DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. What do you think of Darwin's letter to John Murray? What does …
  • … used to understand the hearing power of worms. In Chapter 1 of Vegetable Mould and Earth-worms …
  • … played as loudly as possible, they remained perfectly quiet.[1] In spite of the NEC …
  • … are reactive to sound and/or vibrations! [1] Charles Darwin, Vegetable Mould and …

Books on the Beagle

Summary

The Beagle was a sort of floating library.  Find out what Darwin and his shipmates read here.

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  • … example, at least one of the references to Lamouroux (DAR 30.1: 48 v.) contains material that is not …
  • … of a reference to the book on folio 61 (recto) in part 1 of volume 32 of CD’s geological diary (DAR …

Scientific Practice

Summary

Specialism|Experiment|Microscopes|Collecting|Theory Letter writing is often seen as a part of scientific communication, rather than as integral to knowledge making. This section shows how correspondence could help to shape the practice of science, from…

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  • … Huxley will review his book [ Living Cirripedia , vol. 1] which has been published for a year with …
  • … Letter 5480 — Müller, J. F. T. to Darwin, C. R., 1 Apr 1867 Müller cites cases of difference …

Natural Science and Femininity

Summary

Discussion Questions|Letters A conflation of masculine intellect and feminine thoughts, habits and feelings, male naturalists like Darwin inhabited an uncertain gendered identity. Working from the private domestic comfort of their homes and exercising…

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  • … . Discussion Questions 1. Where did natural science tend to be …

Orchids

Summary

Sources|Discussion Questions|Experiment A project to follow On the Origin of Species Darwin began to observe English orchids and collect specimens from abroad in the years immediately following the publication of On the Origin of Species. Examining…

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  • … by insects . London: John Murray. (Chapter 1: "Structure of Orchis") …
  • … Letter 5637 - Alfred Russel Wallace to Charles Darwin 1 October 1867 Alfred Russell …
  • … DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Why is Darwin interested in mechanisms of fertilisation? How do you …
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