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Darwin Correspondence Project


St. George Jackson Mivart
St. George Jackson Mivart, Photograph by Barraud & Jerrard, ICV No 27321
Wellcome Library, London

Darwin's 1874 letters go online

The full transcripts and footnotes of over 600 letters to and from Charles Darwin in 1874 are published online for the first time. You can read about Darwin's life in 1874 through his letters and see a full list of the letters.

The 1874 letters include several relating to the serious offence that the Catholic zoologist St George Jackson Mivart caused Darwin and his son George. In an anonymously published review, Mivart accused George of promoting views opposed to the institution of marriage and in favour of ‘unrestrained licentiousness’. After re-reading what George had written, Darwin wrote: 'I cannot see a shadow of foundation for the false, scurrilous accusation of [a] lying scoundrel.—' The Mivart affair highlights Darwin’s anxiety about the respectability of his views and the views of those associated with him, his reluctance to enter a public debate, the fierce loyalty of his friends, and contemporary codes of behaviour in scientific society. Find out more about how Darwin and his family and friends dealt with Mivart's accusations.

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Darwin's works in letters

To celebrate Darwin's 210th birthday, we present a new section on Darwin's works in letters, featuring Journal of researches, Living and fossil cirripedia, Descent of man, and Expression of emotions. And here is a song with lyrics based on his letters about Insectivorous plants

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Volume 26 (1878) available now

Investigating the movements and 'sleep' of plants, finally elected a corresponding member of the French Académie des sciences, trying to secure a government grant to support an Irish correspondent's attempts to breed a blight-resistant potato... and a complete stranger proposed to leave him a large bequest in recognition of his work in science. Volume 26 of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin is now available. Read more about Darwin's life in 1878 here.

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Hunt for new Darwin letters
* Letter to J. D. Hooker, [10-11 November 1844]
Image based on a caricature by George Montbard, Cambridge University Library, DAR 225: 178

Hunt for new letters: last chance!

Think you know of a letter to or from Darwin that we haven’t found? Let us know!

Although we already know of more than 15,000 letters that Darwin exchanged with nearly 2000 correspondents around the world, letters continue to come to light in both public and private collections, and we rely on the goodwill and support of archivists, collectors, scholars, and families around the world to make the corpus as complete as possible. The letters inform and are informed by one another, and our ability to understand the whole is increased with every letter we are able to add.

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Read and search the full texts of more than 9,000 of Charles Darwin’s letters, and find information on 6,000 more. Discover complete transcripts of all known letters Darwin wrote and received up to the year 1873.

Darwin for Schools

Discover our new and improved schools resources for 11-14 year olds.

Visit the schools section