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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Mary Somerville   21 January [1869]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 21st.

Dear Madam

I beg leave to thank you very sincerely for your great kindness in sending me a copy of your beautiful work, received yesterday, on Molecular & Microscopic Science, and for the honour you have thus conferred on me.2

I have not yet had time to do more than turn over the pages, & to read the part about Orchids, in which you give an excellent summary of the subject.

With my best thanks & the most sincere respect, | I beg permission to remain | dear Madam, | yours truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The year is established by the publication date of Mary Somerville’s book (see n. 2, below).
Somerville’s book, On molecular and microscopic science (Somerville 1869) was published at the beginning of January 1869 (Publishers’ Circular, 16 January 1869, p. 10). CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down. Somerville, having received CD’s permission, used fourteen illustrations from Orchids in the book (Somerville 1869, 1: 389–403; see also Correspondence vol 14, letter from Mary Somerville, 30 October 1866).


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

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Somerville, Mary. 1869. On molecular and microscopic science. 2 vols. London: John Murray.


Thanks for copy of MS’s book [On molecular and microscopic science, (1869)]. Part on orchids is an excellent summary.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6563,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17