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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Octavian Blewitt   1 January 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan 1. 1877


I understand that Mrs Cupples intends to apply to the Literary Fund for assistance under her present most distressing circumstances, & I beg permission to assure the Committee that in my opinion her claims are real and strong.1 I have read some of her works, & they seem to me to exhibit remarkable talent, & to be excellently adapted to encourage virtuous conduct, & to spread kindly feelings towards not only mankind but all the lower animals.2 The number of Mrs Cupples’ works prove how industrious she has been.

Her husband, who for his works, has likewise large claims for assistance (& who has aided me on several occasions with valuable information with respect to several obscure Biological questions & obtained at the cost of an extraordinary amount of labour), has long been much out of health & is at present quite unable to maintain himself.3

I am informed that there is another and aged relative who depends entirely on Mrs Cupples; & she is herself now suffering from illness.4 I am convinced that it would be difficult to find any one on whom the generosity of the Literary Fund could be better bestowed than on Mrs Cupples.

I have the honour to remain, | Sir, | Your obedient servant | Charles Darwin

Octavian Blewitt Esq


Anne Jane Cupples applied for assistance from the Royal Literary Fund on 1 January 1877 (British Library Archives and Manuscripts, Loan 96 RLF 1/2015/1). For more on the history of the Royal Literary Fund, see Cross 1984.
Cupples probably sent CD at least one of her books written for children, possibly Bertha Marchmont; or, all is not gold that glitters (Cupples 1872; see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from George Cupples, 22 April 1871).
George Cupples had provided CD with information on sexual differences in deerhounds and other animals for Descent (see Correspondence vols. 16–22). CD had supported a proposed petition to the government for a pension for Cupples in 1870 (see Correspondence vol. 18, letter to A. S. Strahan, 29 November 1870). When a subscription was raised for Cupples in 1871, CD contributed £25 (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Thomas Guthrie?, 30 March [1871]).
The relative may have been George Cupples’s mother, Sarah, who died in 1879.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cross, Nigel. 1984. The Royal Literary Fund, 1790–1918: an introduction to the fund’s history and archives with an index of applicants. London: World Microfilms Publications.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


A letter in support of [Ann Jane] Cupples’ request to the Royal Literary Fund for assistance. Her talent, industry, and need.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Octavian Blewitt
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Loan 96 RLF 1/2015/8)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10764F,” accessed on 21 October 2021,