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Darwin Correspondence Project



Down House hothouse
Down House hothouse, engraving from Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Jan. 1883
Cambridge University Library

Darwin in letters, 1863: Quarrels at home, honours abroad

At the start of 1863, Charles Darwin was actively working on the manuscript of The variation of animals and plants under domestication, anticipating with excitement the construction of a hothouse to accommodate his increasingly varied botanical experiments, and continuing a massive scientific correspondence. Six months later the volume of his correspondence dropped markedly, reflecting a decline in his already weak health. Although Darwin worried about the effect of the quarrels on public perceptions, his theory was gathering support in influential scientific circles. He struggled with leaf angles, fractions, diagrams, and shoot dissections.

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