Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Darwin at 200

200 years ago today, Charles Darwin was born.

Who better to wish him a happy birthday than his own sister? There’s more family news [omitted] in the letter, but I was especially charmed by a middle-section about the only thing a certain young “Parky” remembers about uncle Charles.

Oh, and here’s a drawing of Darwin riding a beetle.

A cartoon drawn by Darwin's friend in 1832

From Susan Darwin 12 February 1836

February 12th. 1836

My dear Charles,

It is always my fate to write to wish you joy upon your Birthday; but thank goodness this is the last I can do so, into foreign parts.— You are today 27— and I hope all the rest of your life you may spend very happily amongst us.—we often speculate whether you will have had sufficient travelling to serve you for life: & I think the Yes’s Yes’s generally carry it.— Our two last letters have been full of your fame & glory so I will say nothing about it except that I am as much delighted as any of them at your present success & future prospect of distinguishing yourself in Geology—

. . .

You will I know be very glad to hear that Marianne had a little Girl on the 31st. of Janry. which has made her excessively happy—she is a very nice little thing they say, & is to be called Mary Susan.— Parky is grown a famous fine lad and gets on capitally at school being now at the head of his class— he says the only thing he remembers of Uncle Charles, is his teaching him to say “Oh berry.”

. . .

I wish we could hope to see yr hand writing before May. I long for some account of the Galapageos for I never read any thing about those frying hot Islands. God bless you my dear Charley may I see yr dear face in 6 months time & Ever believe me | Yr very affecte | Granny | S E Darwin

Oh berry.

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