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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 October [1877]1

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

Oct 21st.

My dear Hooker

I was very glad indeed to get your letter, for we had been daily talking about you, & were anxious how your ship fared during the late tremendous gale, which has unroofed all the stacks about here.2 You seem to have had a glorious expedition, & I heard a few days ago from Asa Gray that you were at Cambridge, all prosperous & hard at work.—3 It is good news that you have materials for an essay on geographical distribution.4

I have passed your kind words on to William about his marriage.5 We are all delighted. She is is very pleasant & in all ways an excellent woman, as far as we can see.— The only drawback is that her health is not good. I have rarely seen any woman whom I have liked so much.

You ask about Litchfield: he has been fearfully ill with inflammation of the colon; for some time in extreme danger; but this is now all over, & it is hoped that he may begin his journey home early next morning.—6 Poor old Leonard is a cripple: he sprained his knee & has been on the sofa for 5 weeks & may be, as far as we can see, many weeks more with not the least use of his leg.7 With crutches he can just get from room to room on the ground floor.

I suppose that you will be tremendously busy for some time to come,— what a lot of jobs you will have to clear off.

I am glad Dyer will soon have a holiday, for he looked thin when I saw him the other day.8 His kindness in aiding Frank & me during your absence has been beyond all words: we have various Kew plants here, but I am sorry to say several of them have been so crucified with endless experiments that they have been much injured & are hardly worth returning. Before long we will make out list of what we have got & their state, & then Mr Smith or some one can decide which will be worth returning.9 We have been working like slaves, & God only knows whether our results will prove worth the labour.—

I am glad you are back | Your affect | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 October 1877.
Hooker had reported his late arrival from America owing to storms in his letter of 19 October 1877. A severe gale had struck the British Isles on the night of the 14 and 15 October 1877 (The Times, 16 October 1877, p. 4).
See letter from Asa Gray, 27 September 1877; Hooker spent a week with Gray in Cambridge, Massachussetts, after their botanical tour to the western United States.
William Erasmus Darwin and Sara Sedgwick had become engaged at the end of September (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 4 October [1877] and n. 5).
Richard Buckley Litchfield had been seriously ill while travelling in Switzerland, owing to inept treatment for acute appendicitis (Litchfield 1910, p. 150).
Leonard Darwin had injured his knee playing tennis (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 4 October [1877] and n. 4).
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer, who had married Hooker’s daughter Harriet Anne in June, was about to leave for a delayed honeymoon (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 October 1877 and n. 5).
John Smith was the curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Francis Darwin and CD spent the last part of 1877 working on heliotropism and spontaneous movement of plants and also on bloom (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Litchfield, Henrietta Emma. 1910. Richard Buckley Litchfield: a memoir written for his friends by his wife. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Welcomes JDH home from American expedition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 457–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11195,” accessed on 27 October 2021,