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To W. D. Fox   [11 May 1831]


CD’s father has given him £200 to settle his debts.

He is delighted by a magnificent anonymous gift of a microscope.

Sees a good deal of the Henslows who are expecting a child soon.

CD still talks of the "Canary scheme"; he is learning Spanish.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  [11 May 1831]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 40)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-100

To W. D. Fox   [9 July 1831]


Poverty keeps him at Shrewsbury.

The Canary scheme still goes, CD is studying Spanish and geology.

Jenyns has started CD on Diptera.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  [9 July 1831]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 41)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-101

To J. S. Henslow   [11 July 1831]


Has been learning to use a clinometer.

Has investigated passage and fares for Canaries trip.

Rereading Humboldt.

Asks JSH to thank Jenyns for present of Diptera.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  [11 July 1831]
Classmark:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 1 DAR/1/1/1)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-102

To C. T. Whitley    [19 July 1831]


He is "mad about Geology" and plans to ride through Wales in August with a few days at Barmouth.

Some humorous gossip.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Thomas Whitley
Date:  [19 July 1831]
Classmark:  Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-102A

To W. D. Fox   1 August [1831]


Will send his insects and two or three from Henslow.

The Canary scheme takes place next June.

Is grieved WDF thinks him capable of telling falsehoods.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Darwin Fox
Date:  1 Aug [1831]
Classmark:  Christ’s College Library, Cambridge (MS 53 Fox 42)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-103

From George Peacock to J. S. Henslow   [6 or 13 August 1831]


GP has been asked to recommend a naturalist to sail with Capt. Robert FitzRoy to Tierra del Fuego and the South Sea Islands. If Leonard Jenyns is not available, whom would JSH recommend?

P.S. Urges JHS not to lose this opportunity to have collections made for "our museum".

Author:  George Peacock
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  [6 or 13] Aug 1831
Classmark:  DAR 97: B1–3
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-104

From J. S. Henslow   24 August 1831


JSH has been asked by Peacock to recommend a naturalist as companion to Capt. FitzRoy on Beagle voyage. CD the best qualified person; not a finished naturalist but amply qualified for collecting, observing, and noting.

Author:  John Stevens Henslow
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  24 Aug 1831
Classmark:  DAR 97(ser.2):4–5
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-105

From George Peacock   [c. 26 August 1831]


Details about FitzRoy and proposed voyage of Beagle. CD invited to go on the voyage as naturalist.

Author:  George Peacock
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [c. 26 Aug 1831]
Classmark:  DAR 97 (ser.2): 11–13
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-106

To J. S. Henslow   30 [August 1831]


Feels he should decline Beagle voyage offer because of his father’s objections, which he lists. Would otherwise have taken all risks.

[Geological] trip with Adam Sedgwick a success.

Grieved at Marmaduke Ramsay’s death.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  30 [Aug 1831]
Classmark:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 2 DAR/1/1/2)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-107

From R. W. Darwin to Josiah Wedgwood II   30–1 August 1831


CD has had an offer to go on a voyage of discovery for two years. RWD objects strongly, but will let CD make his case and if JW agrees with CD, RWD will change his position. In a postscript RWD adds, "Charles has quite given up … the voyage."

Author:  Robert Waring Darwin
Addressee:  Josiah Wedgwood, II
Date:  30–1 Aug 1831
Classmark:  V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 96)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-108

From Josiah Wedgwood II to R. W. Darwin   31 August 1831


States his views on each of RWD’s objections to the Beagle venture. JW’s overall position is favourable to CD’s acceptance of the offer.

Author:  Josiah Wedgwood, II
Addressee:  Robert Waring Darwin
Date:  31 Aug 1831
Classmark:  DAR 97(ser.2): 6–8
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-109

To R. W. Darwin   31 August [1831]


CD asks his father to consider the offer of the Beagle voyage once more. He encloses his list of RWD’s objections and Josiah Wedgwood’s responses [see 109]. Asks his father to give him a decided answer: if "no" he will never again mention the subject.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Robert Waring Darwin
Date:  31 Aug [1831]
Classmark:  DAR 223: 1; DAR 97: B10
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-110

From R. W. Darwin to Josiah Wedgwood II   1 September 1831


RWD had made up his mind to give up his objection to the Beagle voyage if JW did not take the same view. If Charles continues to want to go after further inquiry, will give him every assistance.

Author:  Robert Waring Darwin
Addressee:  Josiah Wedgwood, II
Date:  1 Sept 1831
Classmark:  V&A / Wedgwood Collection (MS W/M 96)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-111

To Francis Beaufort   1 September [1831]


CD accepts going with Capt. FitzRoy. Explains earlier refusal as owing to his father’s disapproval.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Francis Beaufort
Date:  1 Sept [1831]
Classmark:  The National Archives (TNA) (Adm 1/4541 PRO D 262)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-112

From Francis Beaufort to Robert FitzRoy   1 September [1831]


Believes he has found a "savant" for FitzRoy in CD, whom he describes as grandson of Erasmus Darwin and "full of zeal and enterprize".

Author:  Francis Beaufort
Addressee:  Robert FitzRoy
Date:  1 Sept [1831]
Classmark:  United Kingdom Hydrographic Office Archive (Letter Book no. 3, p. 233)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-113

To J. S. Henslow   [2 September 1831]


Has just arrived in Cambridge; his father has changed his mind. Asks to see JSH.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  [2 Sept 1831]
Classmark:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 3 DAR/1/1/3)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-114

To Susan Darwin   [4 September 1831]


Spent preceding day with Henslow; much to be done. A friend, Alexander Charles Wood, has written to Capt. FitzRoy about CD. Peacock offered appointment as Beagle naturalist first to Leonard Jenyns, who almost accepted, as did Henslow himself. CD will talk to Capt. Francis Beaufort [Hydrographer] and FitzRoy. Thanks all his family.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Date:  [4 Sept 1831]
Classmark:  DAR 223
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-115

From Adam Sedgwick   4 September 1831


Reports on his geological work in N. Wales since he and CD parted. Answers CD’s queries.

Author:  Adam Sedgwick
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  4 Sept 1831
Classmark:  DAR 204: 65
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-116

To Susan Darwin   [5 September 1831]


Wood has heard from FitzRoy, who seemed so much against CD’s going that CD and Henslow gave up. CD is in London; has seen FitzRoy, who is now ready to invite him. CD remains undecided. He likes FitzRoy. Gives details of prospective arrangements. They probably will be gone three years; "round the world" is not certain. Want of room is a serious objection.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Susan Elizabeth Darwin
Date:  [5 Sept 1831]
Classmark:  DAR 223
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-117

To J. S. Henslow   [5 September 1831]


Has met FitzRoy, who has now offered him the post of naturalist on board the Beagle. Other details about the voyage arrangements – mess, CD’s status, route, books.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Stevens Henslow
Date:  [5 Sept 1831]
Classmark:  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Henslow letters: 4 DAR/1/1/4)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-118
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Books on the Beagle


The Beagle was a sort of floating library.  Find out what Darwin and his shipmates read here.

Matches: 14 hits

  • …  (2: 18). CD, in his letter to Henslow, 9 [September 1831] , discussing the preparations for the …
  • … for Books.’ (Letter from Robert FitzRoy, 23 September 1831 ). On board, FitzRoy states, ‘Our …
  • … Beering’s   Strait . . . 1825, 26, 27, 28 . London, 1831. (DAR 31.1: 276v.; 33: 253v.). Darwin …
  • … la Beche, Henry Thomas.  A geological manual.  London, 1831. (DAR 32.1: 53). Desaulses de …
  • … of geometry.  (Letter to J. S. Henslow, 30 October 1831). ‡ Falkner, Thomas.  A description …
  • … naturelle faites dans l’Amérique du Sud . . . 1830 et 1831.  Annales des Sciences Naturelles  28 …
  • … géologie et de climatologie asiatiques.  2 vols. Paris, 1831. (DAR 35.2: 401; Stoddart 1962, p. 22a …
  • … from J. S. Henslow to CD ‘on his departure’, September 1831). Darwin Library–CUL ††. * …
  • … London, n.d. [1802]. (Letter to Robert FitzRoy, [10 October 1831]). DAR 196.2 †. * Juan, …
  • … vols. 5th ed. York, 1824. (Inscription: ‘Rob t . FitzRoy 1831’). Darwin Library–CUL †. § …
  • … Spanish and English languages.  2 vols. 5th ed. London, 1831. Darwin Library–CUL, vol. 1 only.). …
  • … ed. Cambridge, 1825. (Letter to J. S. Henslow, 30 October 1831). The volumes listed below, …
  • … Viage) Spanish edition’ in Syms Covington, MS ‘Journal 1831–6’, p. 30; Mitchell Library, Sydney, N. …
  • … Taxidermy.(Letter to Susan Darwin, [6 September 1831] ‘A little book, if I have got it in bedroom, …

The Voyage of the Beagle


It was a letter from his friend and former teacher, John Stevens Henslow, that brought the 22-year-old Charles Darwin news of the offer of a place on board the Admiralty surveying vessel HMS Beagle on a voyage to chart the coast of South America. During…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … of zeal & spirit. ( Letter from J. S. Henslow, 24 August 1831 ) It was this letter …
  • … for Darwin when he returned home to Shrewsbury on 29 August 1831 from a geological fieldtrip in …
  • … the  Beagle  finally sailed from Plymouth on 27 December 1831, Charles was on board.  They did not …

Home learning: 7-11 years


Do try this at home! Support your children’s learning by downloading our free and fun activities for those aged between 7-11 and 11-14 years, using Darwin’s letters.  

Matches: 1 hits

  • … History’ ( Letter from J. S. Henslow, 24 August 1831 )  Encourage …

Capturing Darwin’s voice: audio of selected letters


On a sunny Wednesday in June 2011 in a makeshift recording studio somewhere in Cambridge, we were very pleased to welcome Terry Molloy back to the Darwin Correspondence Project for a special recording session. Terry, known for his portrayal of Davros in Dr…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … The letters cover a long time span from one  of 31 August 1831 to his father seeking permission …

Darwin’s hothouse and lists of hothouse plants


Darwin became increasingly involved in botanical experiments in the years after the publication of Origin. The building of a small hothouse - a heated greenhouse - early in 1863  greatly increased the range of plants that he could keep for scientific…

Matches: 1 hits

  • …  vol. 1, letter to Caroline Darwin, [28 April 1831] ), and when, on the  Beagle , he heard …

Natural Science and Femininity


Discussion Questions|Letters A conflation of masculine intellect and feminine thoughts, habits and feelings, male naturalists like Darwin inhabited an uncertain gendered identity. Working from the private domestic comfort of their homes and exercising…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Letter 109 - Wedgwood, J. to Darwin, R. W., [31 August 1831] Darwin’s uncle writes to …

Darwin in letters, 1879: Tracing roots


Darwin spent a considerable part of 1879 in the eighteenth century. His journey back in time started when he decided to publish a biographical account of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin to accompany a translation of an essay on Erasmus’s evolutionary ideas…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … letter from Francis Beaufort to Robert FitzRoy, 1 September [1831] ). By the time Darwin came to …

Darwin & coral reefs


The central idea of Darwin's theory of coral reef formation, as it was later formulated, was that the islands were formed by the upward growth of coral as the Pacific Ocean floor gradually subsided. It overturned previous ideas and would in itself…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … sure they will visit the South Sea Islands:  [9 September 1831] . The first evidence of …

Darwin’s introduction to geology


Darwin collected minerals as a child and was introduced to the science of geology at the University of Edinburgh, but he only became actively interested in the subject as he was completing his degree at Cambridge.

Matches: 2 hits

  • … at the Darwin family home in Shrewsbury in early August 1831 and together they travelled to the …
  • … Darwin returned to Shrewsbury from Wales on 29 August 1831. He had scarcely put down his geological …

Early Days


Sources|Discussion Questions|Experiment The young Charles Darwin From an early age, Darwin exhibited a keen interest in the natural world. His boyish fascination with naturalist pursuits deepened as he entered college and started to interact with…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Letter 98 —Darwin to Caroline Darwin [28 Apr 1831] Writing to his sister Caroline, Darwin …

Darwin’s reading notebooks


In April 1838, Darwin began recording the titles of books he had read and the books he wished to read in Notebook C (Notebooks, pp. 319–28). In 1839, these lists were copied and continued in separate notebooks. The first of these reading notebooks (DAR 119…

Matches: 31 hits

  • … Library of useful knowledge Horse, cow, sheep [Youatt 1831, 1834, 1837]. Verey Philosophie d …
  • … papers. read Audubons Ornithol: Biography [Audubon 1831–9]— 4 Vols. well worth reading …
  • … 1828a]. quoted by D r  Ryan on marriage [Ryan 1831] (read) Babbington on Flora of Channel …
  • … &c. Also Encyclop. of Agriculture by Loudon [Loudon 1831]. Book I. ch. 7 & Book II. Ch. 8. …
  • … of Authors in Loudon’s Encyclop. of Agriculture [Loudon 1831] Dieffenbach Travels into the …
  • … end Herschel’s Introd to Nat. Philosophy [Herschel 1831] d[itt]o 2 d  time of Reading 62 …
  • … 1838] 14 Boswell’s life of Johnsons [Boswell 1831] 4 vols 25 Phillips Geology [J. …
  • … ] to end of 1838. —— Youatt on the Horse [Youatt 1831] Library of Useful K. 1840 …
  • … 1780] Johnson. Tour to Hebrides by Boswell [Boswell 1831] Philip Van Artevelde [H. …
  • … H. Smith 1841] Dec. Encyclop. of Agriculture [Loudon 1831] (skimmed & abst) Jan 9 …
  • … skimmed.— 8 th  Cox’s Columbia River [Cox 1831] —— Anderson on Sheep [Pallas 1794]: …
  • … Sept 3 d  Brewster’s Life of Sir. I. Newton [Brewster 1831] —— 20 Franklins Narrative 1 st …
  • … July 11. Pistor Das Ganze Taubenzucht [Pistor 1831]. —— 15 Die Enten & Gansezucht. Ulm. …
  • … 1856] 30. Brehm Handbuch Vogel Deutschlands [Brehm 1831]. Sept 5 th  Prosper Lucas l …
  • … Dec. 29 th  Audubons Ornithological Biography [Audubon 1831–9]— [DAR 128: 23] …
  • … P. Mathhew on Naval Timber & Arboriculture [Matthew 1831] Bull. Bot. Soc. de France [ …
  • … Feb. 23 Sir D. Brewsters life of Newton [Brewster 1831] March. 8 Houdins the conjurer Life …
  • … London.  128: 3 Audubon, John James Laforest. 1831–9.  Ornithological   biography; or …
  • …  2 vols. London.  119: 7a Boswell, James. 1831.  The life of Samuel Johnson …   …
  • … Library.]  *128: 177 Brehm, Christian Ludwig. 1831.  Handbuch der   Naturgeschichte …
  • … the Swedish. London.  119: 13b Brewster, David. 1831.  The life of Sir Isaac Newton . …
  • …   Cowper . 2 vols. London. 119: 15b Cox, Ross. 1831.  Adventures on the Columbia River, …
  • … and appendix:  Proceedings of the second   expedition, 1831–6, under the command of Captain …
  • … 4v.; 119: 4a Herschel, John Frederick William. 1831.  A preliminary   discourse on the …
  • … landscape gardening . London.  119: 12a ——. 1831.  An encyclopædia of agriculture: …
  • … Paris. 1816–45.  *119: 13v. Matthew, Patrick. 1831.  On naval timber and   …
  • …   von Capitain   W. Wendt, in den Jahren 1830, 1831 und 1832.  3 vols. (Vol. 1, bk 2: …
  • … . 2 vols. Paris.  *119: 1 Pistor, C. M. Wilhelm. 1831.  Das Ganze der Feld- und   …
  • … . London.  *128: 173; 128: 12 Ryan, Michael. 1831.  Lectures on population, marriage and …
  • … *119: 13v.; *128: 157; 128: 22 Youatt, William. 1831.  The horse; with a treatise on   …
  • … Society of London . London. 1812–30. New series, 1831–48. [Abstract in DAR 74: 55–102.]  *119: 4v. …

Scientific Networks


Friendship|Mentors|Class|Gender In its broadest sense, a scientific network is a set of connections between people, places, and things that channel the communication of knowledge, and that substantially determine both its intellectual form and content,…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … Letter 152 — Darwin, C. R. to Henslow, J. S., 3 Dec [1831] Darwin expresses confusion on …
  • … Letter 115 — Darwin, C. R. to Darwin, S. E., [4 Sept 1831] Darwin writes to his sister Susan. …

Charles Darwin: the Beagle letters


This volume contains the complete texts of all the letters that the young naturalist Charles Darwin wrote and received while sailing round the world on the surveying ship the Beaglebetween 1831 and 1836.  They start with letters written as a new and…

Matches: 2 hits

  • …  It was a letter, received unexpectedly in the summer of 1831, which led the somewhat aimless and …
  • … round the world on the surveying ship the  Beagle between 1831 and 1836.  They start with letters …

Robert FitzRoy


Robert FitzRoy was captain of HMS Beagle when Darwin was aboard. From 1831 to 1836 the two men lived in the closest proximity, their relationship revealed by the letters they exchanged while Darwin left the ship to explore the countries visited during the…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … was captain of HMS Beagle when Darwin was aboard. From 1831 to 1836 the two men lived in the …
  • … hoped, would mitigate the hardships of command. In September 1831 he was informed by Francis …
  • … Katharine Anderson, ed., Narrative of the Beagle voyage, 1831-1836 , 4 vols. London: Pickering …

Yokcushlu (Fuegia Basket)


Yokcushlu was one of the Alakaluf, or canoe people from the western part of Tierra del Fuego. She was one of the hostages seized by Robert FitzRoy, captain of HMS Beagle, after the small boat used for surveying the narrow inlets of the coast of Tierra del…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … time as she readily received instruction. By the summer of 1831, FitzRoy had spent £1,500 of his …
  • … . Yokcushlu left England in the Beagle on 27 December 1831. During the voyage, …

Introduction to the Satire of FitzRoy's Narrative of the Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle


'a humble toadyish follower…': Not all pictures of Darwin during the Beagle voyage are flattering.  Published here for the first time is a complete transcript of a satirical account of the Beagle’s brief visit in 1836 to the Cocos Keeling islands…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … century, the circumnavigation of HMS Beagle in 1831 to 1836. Our other substantial accounts of …
  • … little but Ross’ account of the situation from 1827 to 1831, it seems clear that the two men had …
  • … reference to Hare’s ‘Seraglio.’ Leaving the field in 1831, Hare died in Bencoolen in Sumatra at the …
  • … and Beagle , titled Proceedings of the Second Expedition 1831-1836 . It was accompanied by an …

Darwin and the Beagle voyage


In 1831, Darwin joined a voyage that he later referred to ‘as by far the most important event in my life’. To celebrate the 212th anniversary of Darwin's birth, dive in to our 3D model of the Beagle and find out more about life on board and the…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … around the world on his greatest adventure  In 1831, Charles Darwin joined a voyage that he …

Darwin & Geology


The lessons Darwin learned from Adam Sedgwick at Cambridge, and in the field in North Wales, stood him in good stead during the Beagle voyage. While he was attached to the Beagle from 1831 to 1835, Darwin actually spent about two-thirds of his time ashore,…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … voyage. While he was attached to the Beagle from 1831 to 1835, Darwin actually spent about two …

Alexander Burns Usborne


Alexander Burns Usborne was born in Kendal, Westmorland, in 1808, the son of Alexander and Margaret Usborne; his father died in 1818 and in his will was described as the purser on HMS Hannibal. His son joined the navy in 1825 aged 16 as a second-class…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … the navy in 1825 aged 16 as a second-class volunteer; by 1831 he was a master’s assistant. Later …

John Stevens Henslow


The letters Darwin exchanged with John Stevens Henslow, professor of Botany and Mineralogy at Cambridge University, were among the most significant of his life. It was a letter from Henslow that brought Darwin the invitation to sail round the world as…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … from England upon a voyage around the World. 21st Sept. 1831'.  For goodness sake …
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