skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Burdon Sanderson   21 March 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Mar 21 1874

My dear Dr Sanderson

I send registered by this post my M.S. on the habits of Dionæa.1 If you have patience to read it, you will perhaps find something useful for your lecture, as some parts seem to me curious.2 I have not attended to style, only to intelligibility, but I have endeavoured to my utmost to be accurate.

Please sometime to return the M.S., as it will serve to be hereafter licked into shape. You must understand that my observations were intended only as complementary to those on Drosera.3

If I were in your place, I shd get my wife to read the M.S aloud to me, but if Mrs Sanderson4 hears of this hint, she will say that I am an unfeeling wretch.

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. My son Frank wd be delighted to attend as your assistant at your Lecture, if this wd be of any use to you.5


CD had been interested in the habits of Dionaea (Venus fly trap) and Drosera (sundew) since 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8). He sent a fair copy of his observations on Dionaea to Burdon Sanderson (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 July [1874]); neither this or the notes on which it was based have been identified.
Burdon Sanderson gave a lecture on the Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 5 June 1874 (Burdon Sanderson 1874a).
CD’s manuscript became the basis of chapter 13 of Insectivorous plants.
Ghetal Burdon Sanderson.
Francis Darwin, when a medical student in London, had assisted Burdon Sanderson in his experiments on Dionaea muscipula (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. S. Burdon Sanderson, 14 September [1873]).


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

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


Sends his MS on Dionaea and hopes it may be useful for JSBS’s lecture ["On the mechanism of the leaf of Dionaea muscipula", Not. Proc. R. Inst. G. B. 7 (1874): 332–5].

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9368,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22