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To J. D. Hooker   17 June [1860]


Has reread JDH’s paper ["On the functions of the rostellum of Listera ovata", Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 144 (1854): 259–64].

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  17 June [1860]
Classmark:  DAR 261.10: 68 (EH 88206051)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-1571

To W. H. Miller   [after 5 June 1860]


Discusses measurements of bees’ cells. Describes modification in structure of Melipona hive. Notes importance of natural selection.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Hallowes Miller
Date:  [after 5 June 1860]
Classmark:  DAR 146
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2391

To William Hallowes Miller   5 June [1860]


Discusses measurements of bees’ cells.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  William Hallowes Miller
Date:  5 June [1860]
Classmark:  DAR 146
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2468

To Charles Lyell   1 [June 1860]


Comments on review of Origin by Andrew Murray [Proc. R. Soc. Edinburgh 4 (1860): 274–91] and views of William Hopkins on Origin ["Physical theories and the phenomena of life" Fraser’s Mag. 61 (1860): 739–52; 62 (1860): 74–90]. The attacks will tell heavily.

Mentions Blyth’s failure to receive appointment as naturalist to China expedition of 1860.

Encloses letter from Asa Gray.

Discusses gestation period in domesticated dogs.

Comments on hybrid fertility.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Date:  1 [June 1860]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.214)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2820

To George Rolleston   1 June [1860]


Thanks for invitation [to stay with GR at Oxford], but his poor state of health requires him to stay in private lodgings.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Rolleston
Date:  1 June [1860]
Classmark:  Wellcome Collection (MS.6119/1)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2820A

To J. D. Hooker   5 June [1860]



CD’s response to criticism of natural selection. Exasperated at not being understood. He tries to narrow the gap between himself and JDH.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  5 June [1860]
Classmark:  DAR 115: 60
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2821

To Charles Lyell   6 June [1860]


Mentions Etty’s illness.

A "coarsely contemptuous" review of Origin by Samuel Haughton ["On the form of the cells made by various wasps and by the honey bee; with an appendix on the origin of species", Proc. Nat. Hist. Soc. Dublin 3 (1860): 128–40].

Comments on reception of Malthus’ ideas.

Says William Hopkins does not understand him.

Discusses problem of term "natural selection".

J. A. Lowell’s review of Origin [Christian Examiner (1860): 449–64].

Relationship between instinct and structure.

Discusses blindness of cave animals.

The fallacy of Andrew Murray and others; the slight importance of climate.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Date:  6 June [1860]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.215)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2822

To George Rolleston   6 June [1860]


CD’s plans are uncertain because of his daughter’s [Henrietta Darwin] fever.

If GR would kindly reserve rooms for CD near college, CD will write before the meeting [of British Association at Oxford] if he is prevented from coming.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  George Rolleston
Date:  6 June [1860]
Classmark:  Wellcome Collection (MS.6119/)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2822A

To J. D. Hooker   7 June [1860]



Floral anatomy of Goodeniaceae: although flowers seem to fertilise themselves by pistil moving to anther, CD shows that insect agency is necessary. Wants JDH to check his interpretation of stigmatic surface.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  7 June [1860]
Classmark:  DAR 115: 61
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2823

To John Murray   7 June [1860]


Asks how Origin [2d ed.] is selling and whether a new edition is likely to be wanted "soon, ever, or never". Asks partly from curiosity, partly because of a break in his work, and the answer will decide what his next job will be.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Murray
Date:  7 June [1860]
Classmark:  National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 f. 79)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2824

To Asa Gray   8 June [1860]


Discusses recent reviews of Origin and has made a note on Owen’s [see 2737].

Has become interested in the floral structures of orchids.

Notes his recent observations on Primula; believes he has found male and female forms.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Asa Gray
Date:  8 June [1860]
Classmark:  Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (40)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2825

From J. D. Hooker   8 June 1860



Glad to hear good news of Etty [Henrietta Darwin].

CD’s observations on Scaevola are capital. The indusium collects the pollen and is the homologue of the pollen-collecting hairs of Campanula. A boat-shaped organ forms a second indusium, the inside base of which forms the stigmatic surface. The latter later protrudes as horns, forming the stigma.

Describes W. H. Harvey’s scientific career and thinks his letter interesting. Agrees with Harvey that the primary agency of natural selection is as great a mystery as ever. [Response to 2823.]

Author:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 June 1860
Classmark:  DAR 157a
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2825A

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   [4–5 June 1860]


Wants to hear from readers about the way in which the bee-orchid (Ophrys apifera) is fertilised. He has always found it to be self-fertilised but greatly doubts that the flowers of any plant are fertilised for generations by their own pollen. The bee-orchid has sticky glands, which would make it adapted for fertilisation by insects; this makes him want to hear what happens to its pollen-masses in places he has not observed.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Gardeners’ Chronicle
Date:  [4 or 5] June 1860
Classmark:  Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 9 June 1860, p. 528
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2826

To Emma Gärtner   9 June [1860]


Has long venerated her father [Carl F. von Gärtner]. Looks forward to reading his life. CD will do everything he can to make Gärtner’s name more generally known.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Emma Gärtner
Date:  9 June [1860]
Classmark:  Duke University, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RL.10387)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2827

To Henry Tibbats Stainton   11 June [1860]


On what kind of moth have pollen-masses of orchids been found cohering? Will ask Mr Parfitt if he is certain he recognised pollen-masses of bee orchid. CD thinks green masses were those of true Orchis.

[In P.S., having received a letter on subject from HTS responding to same query published in Gard. Chron. 9 June 1860:] It is extremely curious that the same moth has been found with pollen-masses in two parts of England.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Henry Tibbats Stainton
Date:  11 June [1860]
Classmark:  The Natural History Museum (General Special Collections MSS DAR 17)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2829

To J. D. Hooker   12 [June 1860]



Progress of [Thomas?] Thomson and G. H. K. Thwaites on accepting mutability.

Bee orchid pollination.

JDH has written to CD on homologies of stigma in Goodeniaceae.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Joseph Dalton Hooker
Date:  12 [June 1860]
Classmark:  DAR 115: 62
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2830

To John Higgins   13 June [1860]


Discusses possible purchase of land.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  John Higgins
Date:  13 June [1860]
Classmark:  Lincolnshire Archives (HIG/4/2/3/3)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2831

To Charles Lyell   14 [June 1860]


Mentions letters from Edward Blyth and William Hopkins.

Sees little in review of Origin by J. A. Lowell [Christian Examiner (1860): 449–64].

Sees only one sentence approaching natural selection in paper by Hermann Schaaffhausen. Emphasises importance of natural selection.

Comments on Agassiz’s view of species.

Cites account of flint tools in travel book by F. P. Wrangell [Narrative of an expedition to the Polar Sea (1840)]. Mentions Eskimo tools.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Date:  14 [June 1860]
Classmark:  American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.216)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2832

From Charles Lyell   15 June 1860


Rejects CD’s comparison of natural selection with the architect of a building. The architect who plans and oversees construction should not be confused in his function with the wisest breeder. That would be to deify natural selection.

Author:  Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  15 June 1860
Classmark:  Kinnordy MS, Charles Lyell’s journal VI, pp. 108–9
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2832A

To ?   14 June [1860]


He has sent the list of seeds to J. H. Hooker at Kew. There has been no agreement about a French edition [of Origin]. There is little chance of his being at the BAAS meeting at Oxford.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Unidentified
Date:  14 June [1860]
Classmark:  University of South Carolina Libraries, Hollings Special Collections Library (C. Warren Irvin, Jr., Collection of Darwin and Darwiniana)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-2832F
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Darwin in letters, 1863: Quarrels at home, honours abroad


At the start of 1863, Charles Darwin was actively working on the manuscript of The variation of animals and plants under domestication, anticipating with excitement the construction of a hothouse to accommodate his increasingly varied botanical experiments…

Matches: 7 hits

  • … animals made him ‘groan’ ( letter to Charles Lyell, 6 March [1863] ). Darwin reiterated in a later …
  • … old honoured guide & master’ ( letter to Charles Lyell, 6 March [1863] ). Nevertheless, Darwin …
  • … a fitting opportunity’ ( letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863] ). …
  • … in the fossil record ( letter to Hugh Falconer, 5 [and 6] January [1863] ). Only until March did …
  • … Dana, 20 February [1863] , and letter to Charles Lyell, 6 March [1863] ). In March, after …
  • … 29 May [1863] , and letter to Hugh Falconer, [25–6 August 1863] ). Sterility and …
  • … [1863] that he had been ‘ordered to do nothing for 6 months’ by his doctors, mentioning that even …

Darwin in letters, 1874: A turbulent year


The year 1874 was one of consolidation, reflection, and turmoil for Darwin. He spent the early months working on second editions of Coral reefs and Descent of man; the rest of the year was mostly devoted to further research on insectivorous plants. A…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … I feel very old & helpless’  ( letter to B. J. Sulivan, 6 January [1874] ). Darwin mentioned …
  • … on the outcome ( enclosure to letter from G. H. Darwin, 6 [August] 1874 ): I think you …
  • … & it had been refused’ ( letter from G. H. Darwin, [6 or 7 August 1874] ). When the letter was …
  • … to the vomit and ate it ( letter from W. G. Walker, 6 December 1874 ). The Zoological …

Darwin's Fantastical Voyage


Learn about Darwin's adventures on his epic journey.

Matches: 1 hits

  • … These activities explore Darwin’s life changing voyage aboard HMS Beagle. Using letters home, …

Darwin in letters, 1868: Studying sex


The quantity of Darwin’s correspondence increased dramatically in 1868 due largely to his ever-widening research on human evolution and sexual selection.Darwin’s theory of sexual selection as applied to human descent led him to investigate aspects of the…

Matches: 7 hits

  • …   On 6 March 1868, Darwin wrote to the entomologist and accountant John Jenner Weir, …
  • … Index-maker’, Darwin wrote to Joseph Dalton Hooker on 6 January . Darwin had sent the manuscript …
  • … but never fulfilled. He was sent a news clipping on 6 July from the  Maryport Weekly Advertiser …
  • … House of Commons than any assembly in the world’ (from ?, 6 April 1868). On 21 May , Darwin …
  • … The Swiss botanist Alphonse de Candolle described on 6 July the inheritance over eight …
  • … is too short for so long a discussion’, he wrote on 6 April . Yet Wallace continued to press him, …
  • … you as their leader’ ( letter from Gaston de Saporta, 6 September 1868 ). The support …

Natural Selection: the trouble with terminology Part I


Darwin encountered problems with the term ‘natural selection’ even before Origin appeared.  Everyone from the Harvard botanist Asa Gray to his own publisher came up with objections. Broadly these divided into concerns either that its meaning simply wasn’t…

Matches: 2 hits

  • … confounded ( Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell   6 June [1860 ]) Darwin …
  • … explainer. ( Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, 6 June [1860]) To Lyell, Darwin …

List of correspondents


Below is a list of Darwin's correspondents with the number of letters for each one. Click on a name to see the letters Darwin exchanged with that correspondent.    "A child of God" (1) Abberley,…

Matches: 18 hits

  • … (2) Appleton, T. G. (6) Arnold, F. S. …
  • … (15) Bartlett, Edward (6) Bartlett, R. S. …
  • … (1) Boardman, A. F. (6) Boccardo, Gerolamo …
  • … (2) Bonham-Carter, E. M. (6) Bonham-Carter, …
  • … (1) Browne, Walter (6) Brownen, George …
  • … (17) Buckland, William (6) Buckler, William …
  • … (2) Child, G. W. (6) Children, J. G. …
  • … (1) Clarke, W. B. (b) (6) Claus, C. F. …
  • … P. (2) Coe, Henry (6) Coghlan, John …
  • … (2) Crüger, Hermann (6) Cuming, Hugh …
  • … (1) Darwin, Amy (6) Darwin, Anne Eliza …
  • … (47) Darwin, Sara (6) Darwin, V. H. …
  • … (2) Davidson, Thomas (6) Davis, J. E. …
  • … (1) Dear Friend (6) Delage, Yves (1) …
  • … (13) Denny, John (6) Desmarest, Eugène …
  • … (3) Elliot, Walter (6) Elliott & Fry …
  • … (39) Fabre, Jean-Henri (6) Fairfax, Mary …
  • … (9) Galton, E. S. (6) Galton, Erasmus …

Interview with Randal Keynes


Randal Keynes is a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, and the author of Annie’s Box (Fourth Estate, 2001), which discusses Darwin’s home life, his relationship with his wife and children, and the ways in which these influenced his feelings about…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … and [of] all the scientist's colleagues. 6. Darwin's poetic sensibility …

The Lyell–Lubbock dispute


In May 1865 a dispute arose between John Lubbock and Charles Lyell when Lubbock, in his book Prehistoric times, accused Lyell of plagiarism. The dispute caused great dismay among many of their mutual scientific friends, some of whom took immediate action…

Matches: 5 hits

  • … below, ‘Textual changes made to C. Lyell 1863c’). On 6 February 1863, Antiquity of man (C. Lyell …
  • … over the comparative anatomy of human and ape brains. 6 Many of Lyell’s supporters were …
  • … Lyell, see Bynum 1984 and L. G. Wilson 1996. 6. Owen’s complaints about C. Lyell 1863a …
  • … See Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Charles Lyell, 6 March [1863] and n. 7. 9. …
  • … T. H. Huxley, 7 June 1865, Imperial College, Huxley papers 6: 110). For more on the X-club, see …

Darwin in letters, 1872: Job done?


'My career’, Darwin wrote towards the end of 1872, 'is so nearly closed. . .  What little more I can do, shall be chiefly new work’, and the tenor of his correspondence throughout the year is one of wistful reminiscence, coupled with a keen eye…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … Darwin’s best efforts, set the final price at 7 s.  6 d.  ( letter from R. F. Cooke, 12 …
  • … intellectual errors’ ( letter from St G. J. Mivart, 6 January 1872 ). Darwin likened the …
  • … effect on my mind’ ( letter to Chauncey Wright, 6 April 1872 ).  A competing theory on the …
  • … in his `Literary Banquet’ (letters from John Murray, 6 November [1872] and 9 November 1872 ). …

Darwin's life in letters


For all his working life, Darwin used letters as a way both of discussing ideas and gathering the ‘great quantities of facts’ that he used in developing and supporting his theories. They form a fascinating collection from many hundreds of correspondents,…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … with letters. ( Darwin to John Jenner Weir, [6 March 1868] ) For all his working …

Darwin in letters, 1875: Pulling strings


‘I am getting sick of insectivorous plants’, Darwin confessed in January 1875. He had worked on the subject intermittently since 1859, and had been steadily engaged on a book manuscript for nine months; January also saw the conclusion of a bitter dispute…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … ‘How grandly you have defended me’, Darwin wrote on 6 January , ‘You have also greatly honoured …
  • … book had to go along on the excursion,’ he reported on 6 July , ‘and it did us excellent service. …
  • … laurel in the wreath of your fame ’, Haeckel wrote on 6 June , ‘to have a predecessor in the …

St George Jackson Mivart


In the second half of 1874, Darwin’s peace was disturbed by an anonymous article in the Quarterly Review suggesting that his son George was opposed to the institution of marriage and in favour of ‘unrestrained licentiousness’. Darwin suspected, correctly,…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … which Darwin approved ( letter to G. H. Darwin, [5 or 6 August 1874] ), while reiterating his …
  • … and sent a fair copy of his letter with his letter of 6 [August] 1874 . George and Darwin were …
  • … Huxley’s reaction was savage ( letter to G. H. Darwin, [6 December 1874] ). Hooker and Huxley …

Darwin in letters, 1862: A multiplicity of experiments


1862 was a particularly productive year for Darwin. This was not only the case in his published output (two botanical papers and a book on the pollination mechanisms of orchids), but more particularly in the extent and breadth of the botanical experiments…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … a paper for the Linnean Society ( letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 October [1862] ). However, it was not …
  • … different translator ( see letter from Edouard Claparède, 6 September 1862 ). In Germany, …
  • … of the human species ( see letter from John Lubbock, 6 January 1862 ). Ramsay’s was not the …
  • … of the pot of life’? ( letter from T. H. Huxley, 6 May 1862 ). In his address, Huxley also …

Darwin & Glen Roy


Although Darwin was best known for his geological work in South America and other remote Beagle destinations, he made one noteworthy attempt to explain a puzzling feature of British geology.  In 1838, two years after returning from the voyage, he travelled…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Jamieson, 3 September 1861 To Thomas Jamieson, 6 September [1861] To Charles …

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: 22 hits

  • … good by D r  L. Lindsay 5 [DAR *119: 1v.] 6 Books to be Read …
  • … [Le Couteur 1836] Bechstein on Caged Birds. 10 s  6 d . translated by Rennie [Bechstein …
  • … de la Geographie des trois Regnes de la nature. Paris. 6: folio par Céran de Lemonier. Bailliere …
  • … Organique dans l’echelle animale, par A. Dugés, 4to. avec 6 planches, ibid, 1832. 6 s . [Dugés …
  • … p. 195) “Boltons Harmonia Ruralis” [Bolton 1794–6]— Yarrell probably has it. account of …
  • … of Carnation. Auricula. Polyanth tulip. Rose. Hyacinth. 6 s . a catalogue of vars. [T. Hogg 1820] …
  • … Edition, with Plates and Woodcuts. Post 8vo., 9 s . 6 d . [Knapp] 1838] Read Gleanings in …
  • … Pœppig Travels in S. America. German [Pöppig 1835–6].— Zoologie Generale. Iside. St Hilaire …
  • … 1809]. Communicat to Board of Agriculture. vol 6 quoted by Youatt on migration of Sheep [Anon …
  • … [C. H. Smith 1839–40] /on Ruminants [Jardine ed. 1835–6]// on Horses [C. H. Smith 1841]// Exotic …
  • … Nacht. von einigen Berlin 1763? [Kölreuter 1761–6] Godwins answer to Malthus [Godwin 1820] …
  • … [Etherington 1841–3]. Whittaker 1844. in Parts. cheap. 1.6 a part. 38 Schlegel Essay on …
  • … Darluc. Hist Nat. de la Provence [Darluc 1782–6] 8vo. 1782. Tom I p. 303 to 329 gives account of …
  • … of Nat: Hist: of Creation. Churchill: 1844. 7 s  ” 6 d . [Chambers] 1844] in which species are …
  • … Jussieus introduct to Bot. price 6 s  [Jussieu 1842] [DAR *119: 20v.] …
  • …  40 vols. 12mo. coloured plates, cloth lettered, (pub. at 6 s  per vol.) reduced to 5 s  1834–43 …
  • … 5. Peacocks, Pheasants, &c. [Jardine 1834a] 6. Birds of the Game kind [Jardine 1834b]. …
  • … Ruminating Animals (Deer, Antelopes, &c.) [Jardine 1835–6] 12. Ruminating Animals (Goats, …
  • … of  Vertebrate  animals 54 folio Plates. Maclise 2”12.6. [Maclise 1847] good for woodcuts. (Roy. …
  • … Analysis & theory of the Emotions by G. Ramsay B.M. 6. 6. Black Edin. Longman [Ramsay 1848] …
  • … (read) Knox. Ornithological Ramble in Sussex. 7. 6. [A. E. Knox 1849] J. Lubbock has & …
  • … when out Lisianky’s Voyage round world 1803–6 [Lisyansky 1814]— nothing Lyell’s …

Rewriting Origin - the later editions


For such an iconic work, the text of Origin was far from static. It was a living thing that Darwin continued to shape for the rest of his life, refining his ‘one long argument’ through a further five English editions.  Many of his changes were made in…

Matches: 3 hits

  • … From the 3 rd edition on, each English edition up to the 6 th (the final one published in …
  • … 1866 5 th English edition published, 1869 6 th English edition published, 1872 …
  • … significant correspondents.   5 th to 6 th edition Proposed …

Darwin in letters, 1865: Delays and disappointments


The year was marked by three deaths of personal significance to Darwin: Hugh Falconer, a friend and supporter; Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle; and William Jackson Hooker, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and father of Darwin’s friend…

Matches: 4 hits

  • … I have not laboured in vain’ ( letter to Hugh Falconer, 6 January [1865] ). Sic transit …
  • … modification of structure’ (G. D. Campbell 1864, pp. 275–6). Campbell argued further that natural …
  • … observations to high scientific account’ (A. Gray 1865–6, pp. 273-4). Darwin had also written to …
  • … to the Anthropologicals?’ ( letter from F. H. Hooker, 6 September [1865] ). Before he returned …

Photograph album of Dutch admirers


Darwin received the photograph album for his birthday on 12 February 1877 from his scientific admirers in the Netherlands. He wrote to the Dutch zoologist Pieter Harting, An account of your countrymen’s generous sympathy in having sent me on my…

Matches: 1 hits

  • … ( Letter from A. A. van Bemmelen and H. J.  Veth, 6 February 1877 ) Dutch …

Fake Darwin: myths and misconceptions


Many myths have persisted about Darwin's life and work. Here are a few of the more pervasive ones, with full debunking below...

Matches: 1 hits

  • … Many myths have persisted about Darwin's life and work. Here are a few of the more pervasive ones, …

Vivisection: first sketch of the bill


Strictly Confidential Mem: This print is only a first sketch. It is being now recast with a new & more simple form – but the substance of the proposed measure may be equally well seen in this draft. R.B.L. | 2 586 Darwin and vivisection …

Matches: 2 hits

  • … for demonstration or illustration. “ 6. —Licensed persons to use anasthetics in all …
  • … in all painful experiments when possible. 6.—It shall not be lawful for any person …
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