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Darwin Correspondence Project

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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:

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

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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  • … with his fiancée, Emma Wedgwood, in 1838 and 1839, as can be read here. In the end, Darwin chose a …

Dramatisation script

Summary

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

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  • … of Natural Selection… was drawn up in the year 1839, and copied and communicated to Messrs …

Controversy

Summary

The best-known controversies over Darwinian theory took place in public or in printed reviews. Many of these were highly polemical, presenting an over-simplified picture of the disputes. Letters, however, show that the responses to Darwin were extremely…

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  • … yet published, although Darwin first sketched his theory in 1839. They give their reasons for …

Darwin in letters,1870: Human evolution

Summary

The year 1870 is aptly summarised by the brief entry Darwin made in his journal: ‘The whole of the year at work on the Descent of Man & Selection in relation to Sex’.  Descent was the culmination of over three decades of observations and reflections on…

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  • … had begun with observations on his own children as early as 1839. Darwin now recruited family …

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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  • … and Darwin had not met (nor, it seems, corresponded) since 1839, but because Darwin’s name was so …

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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  • … was based on a notebook of observations he had begun in 1839 with the birth of his first child, …

Darwin in letters, 1844–1846: Building a scientific network

Summary

The scientific results of the Beagle voyage still dominated Darwin's working life, but he broadened his continuing investigations into the nature and origin of species. Far from being a recluse, Darwin was at the heart of British scientific society,…

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  • … The scientific results of the  Beagle  voyage still dominated Darwin's working life, but …

Darwin in letters, 1861: Gaining allies

Summary

The year 1861 marked an important change in the direction of Darwin’s work. He had weathered the storm that followed the publication of Origin, and felt cautiously optimistic about the ultimate acceptance of his ideas. The letters from this year provide an…

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  • … The year 1861 marked an important change in the direction of Darwin’s work. By then, he had …

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…

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  • … The years 1858 and 1859 were, without doubt, the most momentous of Darwin’s life. From a quiet …

Darwin in letters, 1867: A civilised dispute

Summary

Charles Darwin’s major achievement in 1867 was the completion of his large work, The variation of animals and plants under domestication (Variation). The importance of Darwin’s network of correspondents becomes vividly apparent in his work on expression in…

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  • …   Charles Darwin’s major achievement in 1867 was the completion of his large work,  The …
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