Sir Francis Darwin letters, 1868-1925

Mss.B.D254

Date: 1868-1925 | Size: 0.25 Linear feet, 50 items.

Abstract

These are principally letters to Charles Edward Sayle on musical programs and to Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing about the Linnean Society, the Royal Society, and the publication of Charles Darwin's papers. There is also a letter of Charles Darwin to Stebbings and several letters of Francis Darwin to other persons. In addition, there are several letters to William Bowman (as well as from Theodor Wilhelm Engelmann to Bowman), and one from Raphael Meldola.

Background note

Darwin, Francis (1848-1925, APS 1909) was a British botanist. With his father the famous naturalist Charles Robert Darwin he collaborated to publish The Movement of Plants in 1880. From his botanical lectures to undergraduates, he also published two textbooks, Practical Physiology of Plants, co-authored with E.H. Acton and The Elements of Botany. Darwin also collected and edited his father's letters for publication in 1887 in an annotated edition that is considered one of the best collections of its kind. This collection, together with two subsequent volumes have provided the basis for all subsequent work on Charles Darwin.

Francis was the third son of Charles Robert Darwin and his wife Emma Wedgwood. Darwin was educated at home and later at Clapham Grammar School, before matriculating at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1866. In 1866 he took a degree in mathematics, and the following year first-class honors in the natural science tripos. Afterward, he entered St. George's Hospital in London, aiming to become a physician, but under the influence of Dr. Emanuel Edward Klein, the father of British microbiology, he studied histology at the Brown Institute. He presented a thesis and received the M.B. degree in 1875.

For the next eight years Darwin worked as the secretary and botanical assistant to his father Charles Robert Darwin and lived at Down with his parents after the death of his first wife Amy in 1876. As a result of this eight-year collaboration with his father, Francis co-authored an 1880 work on The Movement of Plants. Although much continental research on the origins of plant curvature in response to light sought a physicochemical explanation, the Darwins were unconvinced, in part since Francis had demonstrated in his earlier work with Julius Sachs that roots grow more slowly in the light, than in darkness. Also, the experimental and evolutionary orientation of father and son left them uncommitted to discovering a direct relationship of cause and effect. Instead, they put forward the idea of irregular circumnutatory movements to explain phototropic responses in plants. They showed that geotropisms, like phototropisms and traumotropisms (the curvature away from an apical wound) were the result of differential growth rates. However, their most important contribution was to demonstrate that some substance in the apex of the root or shoot that is acted upon by light or gravity transmits its effects to other part of the plant, so that the effects of these stimuli on curvature are indirect. Francis Darwin later continued this research on his own, and refined his experimental techniques. Placing the tip of a root in a horizontal glass tube, he discovered that the rest of the root grew in irregular twists in response to continual signals from the apex "to get vertical". As a result, he rejected the idea of circumnutation and showed that gravity affects shoots by apical stimulus the same way it affects roots. In this connection Darwin accepted the suggestion of Nemec and Gottlieb Haberlandt that gravi-perception depends on the falling of starch grains.

After his father's death in 1882, Francis Darwin moved to Cambridge, where in 1883 he married Ellen Crofts, a lecturer in English literature at Newnham College. At Cambridge Darwin became university lecturer in botany, a fellow of Christ's College, and in 1888, reader in botany. During this period his research interests shifted to the study of water movement within plants, while he taught botany and edited his father's letters. Between 1886 and 1889 the stomatal openings of plants were first observed on the undersides of leaves under the microscope. Among the early researchers, Darwin published his first papers on the distribution of stomata and the transpiration of plants. In order to better investigate the function of stomata, he introduced the horn hygroscope in 1897. Later he invented the porometer to study transpiration by drawing air through the leaf and measuring its velocity. As in his earlier research, Darwin maintained that transpiration in plants was an indirect result of the effects of light. Unlike Weisner, who had suggested a direct effect of light on transpiration, due to its absorption by plant tissues and its transformation into heat, Darwin showed that the red light of the spectrum induced the opening of the stomata, and that the degree of their opening determined the transpiration rate.

Darwin's major literary endeavors during these years included the publication of his undergraduate lectures on botany at Cambridge. These he published in two books, Practical Physiology of Plants, and The Elements of Botany, which presented a stimulating new approach to basic botanical principles. He also began collecting and editing his father's letters for publication in 1887, finishing the final two volumes in 1903. In addition to this editorial work, Darwin authored biographies of his brother George Darwin, Francis Galton, Thomas Hearne, and the botanists Joseph Hooker and Stephen Hales.

For his many contributions to science, Francis Darwin received several important honors. In 1882 he became a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 1909 he received an honorary Sc.D. from Cambridge. Also, in 1912, at the time of the Darwin centennial he received the Darwin medal of the Royal Society. The following year he was knighted. Darwin was married three times in his life; first to Amy Ruck, then to Ellen Crofts, and finally to Florence Fisher. He outlived all of his wives and died a widower in 1925.

Collection Information

Physical description

50 items.

Provenance

Received and accessioned, 1962-1980. See in-house shelf list for additional accession numbers and dates.

Indexing Terms


Corporate Name(s)

  • Linnean Society of London.
  • Royal Society (Great Britain)

Personal Name(s)

  • Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892
  • Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882
  • Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925
  • Engelmann, Th. W. (Th. Wilhelm), 1843-1909
  • Meldola, Raphael
  • Sayle, Charles Edward
  • Stebbing, Thomas Roscoe Rede

Subject(s)

  • Botany.
  • Science -- Societies, etc.


Detailed Inventory

Papers
  
Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to [Sir Francis] Darwin
1 February 1868 
Stebbing, Thomas Roscoe Rede, 1835-1926.
Letter to Charles [Robert] Darwin
5 March 18697x4-1/2

L. 1p. Copy. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Praises his works. Enclosed originally in:Sir Francis Darwin to Stebbing; Aug. 5, 1886. Formerly B D254.2 no. 365

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to G.J. Romanes
25 May 1878 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to
25 May 1882 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to "Dear Madam"
28 May 18827x4-1/2

Down, Beckenham, A.L.S. 1p. Thanks for letting him see letters of Charles Darwin.

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Armand de Quatrefages ?]
29 May 18824 1/2" x 7"

Down, Beckenham, A.L.S. 2p. Desires letters of his late father, Charles Darwin.

General physical description: 4 1/2" x 7"

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to L. Errera
29 May 1882 

Francis Darwin asks to see and copy any letters sent by his father Charles Darwin to Leo Errare that are still in the recipient's possession.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to T[homas] R. Stebbing, Tunbridge Wells
24 June 18824-3/4x3

A.L.S.on postal card. 1p.and add. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers) Thanks for copies of his father's letters. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 4-3/4x3

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Leo Errera
21 July 1882 

Francis Darwin expresses his gratitude to Dr. Errera's loan of letters sent to him from Charles Darwin.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Dr. Zacharias
31 August 18825" x 4"

Down, Beckenham, A.N.S. 1p. Acknowledges copy of work on his father [Charles Darwin]. Formerly B D254.1

General physical description: 5" x 4"

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Rev. O.P. Cambridge
4 October 1882 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Leo Errera
25 October 1882 

Francis Darwin reports that there is no really good bust of his father Charles.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Leo Errera
26 October 1882 

Francis Darwin thanks Dr. Errera for the loan of his father's letters, which he is returning. He also reports that he has made copies of the letters marked 1,2, and 5.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Sir William Bowman
7 March 1883 

Cambridge, A.L.S. 2p. Concerns Darwin's desire to publish some of Bowman's correspondence. Originally B D254.5

Errera, Leo, 1858-1905.
Letter to Francis Darwin
29 April 1883 

Reports that he has received the Darwin letters returned to him by Francis Darwin.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Professor Errera
29 October 1883 

Francis Darwin thanks Errera for the "splendid lot of papers," although he hasn't had time to look at them. He also thanks him for sending a copy of [Georg] Ludwig's paper, which he promises to return.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Sir William] Bowman
[1884] 

Francis Darwin thanks Bowman for the loan of the [Charles Darwin] letters which he promises to "safely" return.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Sir William] Bowman
7 July 1884 

Francis Darwin asks Sir William Bowman to send him [additional?] letters of Charles Darwin, which he will read, when he returns to Cambridge.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Henry Nicholson?] Ella Combe
29 November 18857x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S. 7p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning motion of water in plants. Refers to Michael Foster. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Thomas R.R. Stebbing]
5 August 18867x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S. 3p. Enc. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Wishes to publish his father's letters to him and asks questions concerning them. For enc.,see: Stebbing to C.Darwin; March 5, 1869. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to [Theodor Wilhelm] Englemann
27 January 1890 
Englemann, Paula Maria.
Letter to William Bowman
2 February 1890 

Bowman asks [Theodor Wilhelm] Englemann for copies of any letters from Charles Darwin to Fransciscus Cornelis Donders, since he is writing a memoir of Donders for the Royal Society.

Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to [Sir] Francis Darwin
6 February 1890 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Sir William Bowman
20 February 1890 
Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to [Sir] Francis Darwin
10 April 1890 
Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to Paula [Englemann]
10 April 1890 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to ----
9 September 18917x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Cannot accept the invitation, for he will not be in England on that date. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
[Sir] F[rancis] Darwin. Statement as to the authenticity of certain letters from Charles R. Darwin to Errera
October 1893 

Statement as to the authenticity of certain letters from Charles R. Darwin to Professor Errera.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Professor Errera
10 June 1896 

Francis Darwin wishes to introduce Errera to a Dr. C. Curtis of Columbia College in the United States, who is interested in plant physiology.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Dear Biffen
27 December 1896 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
4 November 18977x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S. 3p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Regardless of forthcoming events, he has ordered "100 to me & 100 to you.' Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
19 November 18977x4-1/2

Wychfield, A.L.S. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Thinks they should not print names of subscribers on the programme. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
20 November 18977x4-1/2

Wychfield, A.L.S. 4p. (see Sir Francis Darwin Papers.) Plans for the opening concert. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
17 January 18987x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S.with initials. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning a concert. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to ----
10 June 18997x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.S. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Declines invitation to lecture. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter Leo Errera
23 August 1899 

Francis Darwin says he will be happy to meet with him on Saturday at 12:30, but is unsure whether Stahl will come.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Professor Errera
25 August 1899 

Francis Darwin says that his wife, who is in France will be coming along with him to meet Errera, as will Stahl.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Raphael Meldola
3 July 1902 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to ----
13 October 19047x4-1/2

A.L.S. 3p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Wishes to know the duties of the presidency, for the "R[oyal] Soc[iety] takes as much of my time as I can possibly spare." Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to T[homas] R. Stebbing
17 October 19047x4-1/2

A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Will serve as president if elected. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to T[homas] R. Stebbing, Tunbridge Wells
20 October 19043-1/2x4-1/2

A.L.S.on postal card. 1p.and add. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Will come to Linnean Society. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 3-1/2x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Thomas R.] Stebbing
16 December 19057x4-1/2

Cambridge, A.L.s. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) The date is fine, for there "is no R[oyal] Society Council" to take precedence. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Henry Benjamin?] Wheatley
3 December 19129x7

Gloucester, A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Cannot accept invitation. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 9x7

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to G.W. Blodgett
13 November 1921 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to
24 April 1925 
Bowman, William, Sir, 1816-1892.
Letter to [Sir Francis Darwin]
31 January, undated 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Thomas R.R.] Stebbing
30 March, undated8x6

Cambridge, A.L.S. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Cannot attend meeting. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 8x6

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
24 November, undated7x4-1/2

Wydefield, A.L.S. 3p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning a visitor. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
Friday, undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge, Friday. A.L.S. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning musicals. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
Friday, undated 

More discussion of program notes for a musical production.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
Friday, undated7x4-1/2

Wychfield, Friday. A.L.S. 3p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning musical programmes. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
Saturday, undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge, Saturday. A.L.S. 3p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Lists names he thinks important. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
Saturday, undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge, Saturday. A.L.S.with initials. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Comments on music for the programme. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to A. Knight
undated 

Darwin says that he knows nothing positive about the fern, but refers the correspondent to Willis's Flowering Plants and Ferns.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
undated7x4-1/2

A.L.S. 4p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning programme notes for a musical performance. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge. A.L.S. 2p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning music. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
undated7x4-1/2

A.L.S. 1p.on printed note. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Needs singer for a program. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
undated7x4-1/2

A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning the sale of tickets. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to [Charles Edward?] Sayle
undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge. A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Thanks for enclosed. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to Dr. Trentler
undated 

Thanks Dr. Trentler and his wife for the card.

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to
undated 
Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letter to ----
undated7x4-1/2

Cambridge. A.L.S. 1p. (see Sir Francis Darwin papers.) Concerning courses on botany. Formerly B D254.2

General physical description: 7x4-1/2

Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925.
Letters to various persons
undated 

1869-1912. D. 27 items. Various sizes. Formerly B D254.2