Sources for Darwin and Down House

This page provides a guide to the documents, books, websites, and collections of artefacts relevant to the study of Darwin and his life at Down House.

Two pages from one of Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage notebooks with brass clip visible
Two pages from one of Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage notebooks

Primary Sources

Charles Darwin’s life and career are represented by the extensive collections of personal artefacts and scientific equipment in the collection at Down House. These include an assortment of instruments and notebooks from his Beagle voyage, various specimens from his studies at Down, and correspondence between Darwin, his family and friends.

The full collection of Darwin’s Notebooks is available online, together with summaries of their contents. Further material from the Darwin Collection at Down House is being added.

Transcripts and summaries of letters and notes from the Darwin Collection at Down House can be accessed through the Darwin Correspondence Project website. The project, based at Cambridge University Library, aims to trace, research and publish summaries of all letters written by Darwin, and to Darwin, and to publish transcripts by volume in chronological order.

To date, the project has brought together more than 15,000 letters. Currently full transcripts of 7,500 letters are available online. 

Published works by Darwin

Modern editions of Darwin’s publications are widely available:

Darwin, C, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (London, 1859) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin, C, On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects (London, 1862) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin, C, On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants (London, 1865) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin, C, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2 vols (volume 2) (London, 1868) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin, C, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2 vols (volume 1; volume 2) (London, 1871) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin, C, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (London, 1872) [accessed 8 February 2013]

Darwin, C, Insectivorous Plants (London, 1875)

Darwin, C, The Effects of Cross- and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom (London, 1876)

Darwin, C, Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species (London, 1877)

Darwin, C, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits (London, 1881) [accessed 8 Feb 2013]

Darwin’s publications are also available at Darwin Online [accessed 8 Feb 2013].

Printed sources relating to Darwin

Barlow, N (ed), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–1882 (London, 1958)

Browne, J, Voyaging (London, 2003)

Browne, J, Desmond, A and Moore, J, Charles Darwin (Oxford, 2007)

Burkhardt, F and Smith, S (eds), The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, 21 vols (Cambridge, 1985–2014)

Burkhardt, F and Smith, S (eds), A Calendar to the Correspondence of Charles Darwin 1821–1882 (Cambridge, 1994)

Burkhardt, F, Evans, S, and Pearn, A (eds), Evolution: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin 1860–1870 (Cambridge, 2008)

Burkhardt, F, Evans, S, and Pearn, A (eds), Origins: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin 1825–1859 (Cambridge, 2008)

Colp, R Jr, Darwin’s Illness (Florida, 2008)

Darwin, F (ed), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (London, 1887)

Desmond, A and Moore, J, Darwin (London, 1991)

Desmond, A and Moore, J, Darwin’s Sacred Cause (London, 2009)

Freeman, RB, Charles Darwin: A Companion (Kent, 1978)

Gautrey, P, Herbert, S, and Kohn, D, Charles Darwin’s Notebooks 1836–1844: Geology, Transmutation of Species, Metaphysical Enquiries (Cambridge, 2009)

Glick, T and Kohn, D, On Evolution: The Development of the Theory of Natural Selection (Indiana, 1996)

Healey, E, Emma Darwin: The Inspirational Wife of a Genius (London, 2001)

Keynes, RH, Annie’s Box: Charles Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution (London, 2001)

Keynes, R, Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (London, 2009)

Keynes, RD, Fossils, Finches & Fuegians: Darwin’s Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle (Oxford, 2003)

Keynes, RD (ed), Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary (Cambridge, 1988)

Keynes, RD (ed), Charles Darwin’s Zoology Notes and Specimen Lists from HMS Beagle (Cambridge, 2000)

Litchfield, H (ed), A Century of Family Letters 1792–1896, 2 vols (London, 1915)

Raverat, G, Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood (London, 1952)

Published works relating to Down House

Atkins, H, Down, Home of the Darwins: The Story of a House and the People who Lived There (London, 1974)

British Association for the Advancement of Science, Historical and Descriptive Catalogue of the Darwin Memorial at Down House (1946)

Howarth, OJR and Howarth, EK, A History of Darwin’s Parish: Downe, Kent (Southampton, 1933)

Reeve, T, Down House: The Home of Charles Darwin (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2009) [buy the guidebook]

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