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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. D. Fox   17 December [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Dec 17th

My dear Fox

Your remarks on William pleased us much: He is now at home & gives a good account of your appearance.—1

I shall be proud to send you the Photograph of myself by Post. & will order a copy for you.—2

I have no idea whether an engraving of my Grandfather could be purchased; there are Photographs of his picture to be had at Cambridge & I will tell William to get (if he can) one & send it you.3 The engraving of my Father is hideous, but I presume my sisters could get it at Shrewsbury, if you wished for it.—4

Thank for your enquiries about poor Etty who has had a terrible succession of illnesses; she is now very slowly, but steadily improving.

You also ask after Caroline: she also was very ill this summer; but is now fairly well. She & her three daughters live at Leith Hill Place, 6 miles from Dorking.5

As for myself I have been of late rather below my low mark; & so end my long Bulletin. I am at present busy with a new & somewhat enlarged & corrected Edit. of the well abused Origin, which the Public like, whatever the Reviewers may do.— I have done very little in Nat. Hist. this summer owing to Etty’s illness.—

You say not a word about your innumerable progeny;6 so that I hope that they are all well. Farewell | My dear Fox | Yours very truly | C. Darwin

I forgot.—   you offer me a good inkstand. This is by far too good an offer not to be gratefully accepted.

You might send it to “6, Queen Anne St. | Cavendish Sqe”.—7


William Erasmus Darwin had apparently called on Fox before arriving at Down for the Christmas holidays. According to Emma Darwin’s diary, ‘William came’ on 13 December 1860.
CD’s comments in the following letter suggest that he intended to send Fox a copy of a photograph taken by Maull and Fox (see the frontispiece). It is not known precisely when the photograph was taken. Francis Darwin dated it as ‘1854?’ (LL 1: frontispiece); Nora Barlow believed it was taken when CD was ‘aged 51’, or in 1860 (Autobiography, frontispiece). An entry in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) in February 1858 suggests that CD may have sat for the photograph in the summer of 1857.
Erasmus Darwin, CD’s grandfather, was the brother of Fox’s grandfather William Alvey Darwin. CD probably refers to photographs of the portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby, circa 1780. The original is in the Darwin Museum–Down. Another portrait of Erasmus Darwin by Wright, dated 1770, is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
CD refers to the mezzotint of Robert Waring Darwin made by Thomas Lupton in 1839 after the portrait in oil by James Pardon. See Correspondence vol. 4, facing p. 188. Both the engraving and the portrait are in the Darwin Museum–Down.
Caroline Sarah Wedgwood, aged sixty, was CD’s oldest sister. Her three daughters were Sophy Marianne, Margaret Susan, and Lucy Caroline Wedgwood (Darwin pedigree).
By 1860 Fox had 15 children.
The address of CD’s brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

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

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.


Writes of family photographs and health.

Is at work on an enlarged [3d] edition of Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Darwin Fox
Sent from
DE 18 60
Source of text
Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 130a)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3025,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8