Charles Darwin letters reveal his emotional side

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In a collection of previously unpublished letters that have been made available online today, naturalist Charles Darwin reveals a highly emotional and personal side.


In letters to his closest friend, the botanist Joseph Hooker, he pours out his grief over the death of his daughter-in-law, Amy. He also speaks of his ideas on evolution for the first time – something he writes was like "confessing to a murder".

Of the many letters that Darwin wrote and received in his life, among the most important were his correspondence with his friend of 40 years, Joseph Hooker. As well as tracking the development of Darwin's scientific ideas, the letters give an intimate insight into a Victorian friendship.

Almost the entire collection – more than 1,400 letters – has been published by Cambridge University's Darwin Correspondence Project.

Written By: Kate Hoyland
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

11 COMMENTS

  1. Unlike Newton, who appears to have been a spiteful, heartless and generally nasty man, Darwin seems very warm and cuddly. A man who, unwillingly almost, contributed the greatest advance to biology in the modern age, reveals his human and humane side. Perhaps because he had a wife and children and rich family life while Newton never went near a woman (or, apparently a man).

    When asked which person from history I’d like to invite to dinner, I chose him. I’m sure he would bring dessert.

    • I’d invite Newton over Darwin, but then I prefer mayhem to cuddliness. Both together would be amazing, but I’d also invite prof Dawkins. Of the three I think he’d bring the best dessert. Actually in those circumstances I’d lock Newton in a cupboard and spend the evening listening to the other two.
      By the way I strongly recommend The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson if you want to find out the real fictional truth about Newton.
      In reply to #1 by justinesaracen:

      Unlike Newton, who appears to have been a spiteful, heartless and generally nasty man, Darwin seems very warm and cuddly. A man who, unwillingly almost, contributed the greatest advance to biology in the modern age, reveals his human and humane side. Perhaps because he had a wife and children and rich family life while Newton never went near a woman (or, apparently a man).

      When asked which person from history I’d like to invite to dinner, I chose him. I’m sure he would bring dessert.

    • In reply to #4 by Nodhimmi:

      Sanctimonious Christians who like to revile the man should read this… and rethink their beliefs

      What Darwin was like as a person shouldn’t have any bearing on how his discoveries are regarded. He could have been a complete bastard; that wouldn’t make evolution any less true.

      By most accounts, Jesus was a pretty good egg. That doesn’t make me any more inclined to become a Christian.


      Your new avatar is genuinely horrible. You’re better than that, man.

  2. After reading this and reading some of the comments, I was compelled to write this namely after reading a comment below about how much ‘warmer’ Darwin was than Newton. Seriously, who gives a hoot?

    I know most humans are obsessesed with the cult of personality,let’s be honest- if we weren’t “The Entertainment Business” would have been out of business years ago, but please explain to me what matter is this, or any other person’s personality in relation to their contribution to whatever field they work in?

    Someone’s disposition shouldn’t have anything to do with what they accomplish. Will it affect their personal life-probably but that is none of anyone’s business.

    Just food for thought.

    • In reply to #6 by moreOfawave:

      I know most humans are obsessesed with the cult of personality,let’s be honest- if we weren’t “The Entertainment Business” would have been out of business years ago, but please explain to me what matter is this, or any other person’s personality in relation to their contribution to whatever field they work in?

      Someone’s disposition shouldn’t have anything to do with what they accomplish. Will it affect their personal life-probably but that is none of anyone’s business.

      Darwin had co-operation from a ship’s captain and crew, while living for months with them in cramped conditions.

      Any “pompous awkward cuss”, would not have achieved this, or the extensive follow-up correspondence, with those doing field-work all over the world, at a time when communications were slow and limited!
      That requires earned respect!

  3. Hey there people Im Bobby Brown,
    they say I’m the cutest boy in town….

    Anyway, you have all seen how “nice” I am to everyone. I am wondering why I am not on the list of invites to dinner??? Oh, that’s right, contribution to global good. I pick Darwin and Newton. My selfish interests put Darwin in the lead, but, Newton??? are you kidding me??? Einstein lived here.

  4. One of the Darwins’ children was born with Down’s Syndrome, the Physician John L H Down, after whom the condition was eventually renamed from Mongolism, lived not far away from Down House at the time, and although it would probably have been too late to have made any difference, Darwin new nothing of Gregor Mendel’s work, and Emma Wedgewood and Charles Darwin were cousins.

    Life sure does pitch some curves.

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