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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Arthur Mostyn-Owen   21 May 1873

Woodhouse, | Shrewsbury.

21st. May 73

Dear Darwin

It is so long since we met that you will hardly remember me—1 you were brought to my recollection a few days ago by seeing a water color sketch of yourself in the sitting room upstairs here, which was done I believe by [Mrs] Biddulph—2 It is not at all like the portrait of you which appeared some months ago in one of the illustrated papers3—& if you like to have it I will send it to you—& in return you shall send me the book you have written (people say) to prove our relationship to the monkey tribe.4

If you would pay the old place a visit I should be delighted to give you another chance of shooting me in the eye5—though there is not nearly so much game of any sort here now as was formerly.

The trimming of the hedges so much has something to do with this decrease—& then the killing of all the hawks & carrion crows & polecats & weasels & stoats has caused an enormous increase in the numbers of rats which now live in the hedge rows in the rabbit holes &c &c and devour a vast quantity of the eggs of both pheasants & partridges & thereby do more havoc among the game than their natural enemies did.—

Hoping you are quite well believe me yours truly | A Mostyn Owen


The Mostyn-Owens of Woodhouse, Shropshire, were family friends of the Darwins. CD had regularly visited the estate to shoot with Arthur Mostyn-Owen and his brothers.
Mostyn-Owen probably refers to Fanny Mostyn-Owen, who had formed a romantic relationship with CD before she married Robert Myddelton Biddulph in 1832. She was a keen artist (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter from E. C. Darwin and S. E. Darwin, 4 December [1825], and letter from Fanny Owen, [26 October 1828]). In 1832, she recalled her painting turret at Woodhouse, and the fun that she and CD had there (see ibid., letter from Fanny Owen, 1 March 1832).
Mostyn-Owen probably refers to the portrait of CD that appeared in the Illustrated London News, 11 March 1871, p. 244 (see Correspondence vol. 19, p. 168).
Mostyn-Owen refers to Descent.
On a visit to Woodhouse in 1829, CD had accidentally shot Mostyn-Owen, wounding his eye badly with a copper cap (see Correspondence vol. 1, letter to W. D. Fox, [25–9 January 1829]).


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

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


Offers to exchange a water-colour portrait of CD, done, he believes, by Fanny Biddulph, for a copy of Descent.

There has been a decrease of game-birds in the area.

Letter details

Letter no.
Arthur Mostyn Owen
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Woodhouse, Shrewsbury
Source of text
DAR 173: 42
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8917,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21