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Darwin Correspondence Project

Dorothy Fanny Nevill


Society hostess and horticulturist. Daughter of Horatio Walpole, third earl of Orford; married Reginald Henry Nevill in 1847. Developed a notable garden at Dangstein, near Petersfield, Hampshire, where she cultivated orchids, pitcher-plants, and other tropical plants; employed thirty-four gardeners.

Further Reading

Further Information:

Lady Dorothy Fanny Nevill née Walpole (1826-1913) was the daughter of Horatio Walpole, the third earl of Orford. In 1847, she married Reginald Henry Nevill. She was an English horticulturist; she developed a notable garden at Dangstein, near Petersfield in Hampshire, where she cultivated orchids, ferns, insectivorous plants, aquatic plants, and other tropical plants and employed 34 gardeners. Her head gardener was James Vair.

Her garden was recognised by horticulturists of her time and was written about in numerous articles. Nevill was scientifically engaged; she provided Charles Darwin with samples of, and observations from, her garden. She was an admirer of Darwin’s work: on one occasion she wrote Darwin to request a signed photograph and on another she wrote to request a meeting with Darwin, explaining that if he could not meet with her in London she would be happy to call on him at any time, in any place. In Insectivorous Plants (1875) Darwin credited Lady Nevill with having sent him an Australian plant and a utricularia montana. In The Reminiscences of Lady Nevill, Nevill noted that she had maintained correspondence with Darwin, William Hooker, and Joseph Hooker, all of whom she felt had an avid interest in her garden. In addition to her horticultural endeavours, Lady Nevill developed a laundry school for poor women and attempted to grow silk at her home.

Relevant Gender Resources:

Primary Sources:

Darwin, Charles. Insectivorous Plants. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1875. 〈 - v=onepage&q&f=false

Darwin Correspondence Database,

Darwin Correspondence Database,

Darwin Correspondence Database,

Darwin Correspondence Database,

Darwin Correspondence Database,

Nevill, Lady Dorothy. The Reminiscences of Lady Dorothy Nevill. Ed. Ralph Nevill. London: Edward Arnold, 1906. 〈 - v=onepage&q&f=false

Secondary Sources:

Ogilvie, Marilyn and Joy Harvey, eds. The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century. Routledge: New York, 2000. 〈 - v=onepage&q&f=false

Trotter, W. R. "The Glasshouses at Dangstein and Their Contents." Garden History, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 71-89. 〈




ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.