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Darwin Correspondence Project

Origin is 160; Darwin's 1875 letters now online

To mark the 160th anniversary of the publication of Origin of species, the full transcripts and footnotes of nearly 650 letters to and from Charles Darwin in 1875 are published online for the first time. You can read about Darwin's life in 1875 through his letters and see a full list of the letters.

Edward Emanuel Klein had assisted Darwin with his experiments on the digestive fluid of insectivorous plants. In 1875, Klein was a very controversial witness at the Royal Commission on vivisection. When asked about his use of anaesthetics in research, Klein expressed doubt about the validity of experiments conducted under such conditions, and even asserted that he had ‘no regard at all’ for the sufferings of animals when performing a painful experiment. Darwin also testified to the commission, and wrote of Klein's contribution: ‘I am astounded & disgusted ... but it is most painful as I liked the man.’  

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Volume 27 (1879) now published

In 1879, Darwin continued his research on movement in plants and researched, wrote, and published a short biography of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin as an introduction to a translation of an essay by Ernst Krause on Erasmus’s scientific work. Darwin’s son Francis spent a second summer at the Botanical Institute in Würzburg, Germany, learning the latest experimental techniques in plant physiology. As well as their regular tour of visits to family, the Darwins spent most of August on holiday in the Lake District. In October, Darwin’s youngest son, Horace, became officially engaged to Ida Farrer, after some initial resistance from her father, who, although an admirer of Charles Darwin, thought Horace a poor prospect for his daughter. Volume 27 of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin is now available. Read more about Darwin's life in 1879.

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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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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 1875.

Darwin for Schools

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

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