RECORD: John van Wyhe ed. Down House notebook 1.1. [English Heritage 88202321] (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited from the manuscript by John van Wyhe 11.2006; transcription checked by Kees Rookmaaker, 4.2007, further revised by van Wyhe and Rookmaaker 1.2011. RN2

NOTE: This notebook is bound in brown leather with a floral embossed border: the brass clasp is intact. No watermarks are visible; the pages (9.5 cm wide) are blue with marbled edges. The front cover of the notebook is labeled in ink 'Ch. Darwin / 6. Queen St / Cavendish Square'. The notebook is in very good condition, showing very little wear. Darwin wrote from both ends of the notebook and later excised pages from both ends with short scissors. Only one leaf with writing remains.

The notebook was originally believed to be one of the Beagle field notebooks and hence was deposited at Down House. However analysis of its fragmentary and almost illegible contents reveals that it is entirely post voyage. Some of the remaining page stubs retain traces of writing, in pencil and brown ink, some pages written parallel, others perpendicular, to the spine. The address on the front cover No. 6 Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square, London, was the home of Darwin's brother Erasmus from 1852. Darwin stayed at this address many times between 1861-1881. See Freeman 2007.

The contents of the notebook give some clues as to its dates of use and original contents. Some of its excised pages might remain to be identified in the Darwin Archive in Cambridge University Library. From the group of many excised pages at the front of the notebook a few legible words on the remaining stubs show that the notebook was used to record experiments leading to the publication of Insectivorous plants in 1875. One word appears to read 'thermometer', another reads 'Temp 0 5°' and the last gives the only surviving date in the notebook: 'July 9-[18]74'. Many other notes relating to these botanical experiments carried out by Darwin and his son Francis on insectivorous plants from this period can be see on Darwin Online here. The remaining leaf with writing dates from a different period, most likely 1878-1880, as they refer to 'Smithia' and 'Oxalis' which were discussed by Darwin in The power of movement in plants (1880). Other notes in the Darwin Archive that refer to Smithia are here.

John van Wyhe 1.2011

Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
[some text] 'some text' is an editorial insertion
[some text] 'some text' is the conjectured reading of an ambiguous word or passage
[some text] 'some text' is a description of a word or passage that cannot be transcribed
< > word(s) destroyed
<some text> 'some text' is a description of a destroyed word or passage
Text in small red font is a hyperlink or notes added by the editors.

Reproduced with the permission of English Heritage (Darwin Collection at Down House) and William Huxley Darwin.

[front cover]

[scroll up to see introduction]

Ch. Darwin

6. Queen St

Cavendish Square

[inside front cover]



This page is not in Darwin's handwriting but consists of archival catalogue numbers.

[37 leaves excised, traces of writing on the page stubs are mostly in pencil, some in ink traces. Most written perpendicular to the spine.]

[page stub 2]

[See Ras for]1

1 Possibly a reference to Darwin's brother Erasmus 'Ras' Darwin- whose address is given on the front cover and inside back cover of the notebook.

page in pencil, written horizontally to the spine.

[page stub]

[2-3 words illeg?] [thermometer]

page in pencil, written horizontally to the spine.

[page stub]

Temp 0 5°

Temp 0 5°] in pencil, written horizontally to the spine.

[page stub]

July 9-74

July 9-74] in pencil, written horizontally to the spine.

[21 contiguous following leaves are blank]

[page 38]

All 12 leaves of Smithia yellowish the [opposite] leaves often had been cleaned, but [differs] only [slightly]

Smith [illeg] leaves in [4 words illeg] but a little inflated

Cotylodon no [impurity]

Oxalis — but lesser from [spells]

[ ] 7 dead [illeg] dyed off

no [2 words illeg] water

[Rohmian next copy today from inflation][3 words illeg]

6 (or 7 [3 words illeg])

8 [2 words illeg]

page in pencil, cancelled in blue ink.

[page 39]

[illeg] 9 [illeg]

6 [2 words illeg]

2 [2 words illeg]

1 not-

page in pencil cancelled in blue ink.

[14 excised pages]

[inside back cover]

C. Darwin

6 Queen Anne St.

Cavendish Sq

[Printed label on green paper:]






C. Darwin...Cavendish Sq] in pencil.

[back cover blank]

This document has been accessed 3428 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012