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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Axel Key   20 December 1877

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec.r. 20th 1877

Dear Sir

I can not too strongly express my thanks for the very handsome present of your work on the nervous system, which you & Prof. Retzius have been so kind as to give me.1 I look at this present as a very great honour. The book is by far the most magnificent one which I have ever seen on anatomy & histology. The labour bestowed on the beautiful Plates alone must have been unparalleled.2

With the greatest respect & cordial thanks, I remain Dear Sir | Yours faithfully & obliged | Charles Darwin


Key sent a copy of Studien in der Anatomie des Nervensystems und des Bindegewebes (Studies in the anatomy of the nervous system and of the connective tissue; Key and Retzius 1875–6). Gustaf Retzius was a docent in histology at the Karolinska Institute, where Key was professor of pathological anatomy. CD’s copy of the two-volume work is in the Darwin Library–Down.
The two volumes contained numerous colour lithographic plates produced from fine colour drawings. For more on the lithographic plates and the production of the volumes, see Ljunggren and Bruyn 2002, pp. 95–8.


Expresses his gratitude and admiration for AK’s and M. G. Retzius’s Studien in der Anatomie des Nervensystems und des Bindegewebes (2 vols. 1875–6).

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11284A,” accessed on 16 September 2021,