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Darwin Correspondence Project

The Darwin household

Virginia Isitt: Darwin’s secretary?

In an undated and incomplete draft letter to a “Miss I.”, Emma Darwin appears to be arranging for Miss I. to come to Down for a trial period as a secretary. When the letter first came to light, no one had heard of the mysterious “Miss I.” and, as far as we knew, Darwin never employed a secretary. Members of his family acted as his amanuenses, read to him, helped with experiments, and read drafts of his work; from time to time he employed someone to make fair copies of his manuscripts. His children’s German governess helped with translations, even after she had left the family.

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