RECORD: Ritchie, Anne Thackeray. 1924. [Recollection of an 1882 visit to Darwin]. Hester Ritchie ed., Letters of Anne Thackeray Ritchie. London: John Murray, pp. 183-4.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 3.2018. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here.

"Thackeray, Anne (Annie) Isabella, 1837-1919. Novelist. Eldest daughter of William Makepeace T. 1877 Married Richmond Ritchie, her first cousin. 1866-82 Visited Down House, "a most amusing and pleasant person". (letter to Anthony Rich) 1882 Was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. … Brodie, the Darwin's Scottish nurse was once with the Thackerays.
Ritchie, Sir Richmond Thackeray Willoughby, 1854-1912. Born in India and worked as civil servant in the India Office. Married Anne Isabella Thackeray. 1881 Feb. 27 "R. Ritchies to lunch". The R's stayed 1882 Jan. 21-23. Visited ED in 1888 and stayed 1895 May 4-5. 1882 R was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. 1907 KCB. ..."
Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021.

The Ritchie's visit from 21-23 January 1882 was also recorded in Emma Darwin's Diary, January 1882.

[page] 183

Journal 1882

Early in the years Mrs Darwin asked us to go to stay at Down, and so anxious was I to go, that I mistook the day, and went just a week before they asked us!

We drove to the door, the butler hospitably said, "Mr and Mrs Darwin are sure to wish you to remain pray don't go," and Mrs and Mr. Darwin came out and called us in, and Mr. Darwin said, "You're as welcome as can be, and you must forgive me for laughing. I can't for the life of me help laughing."

There never was a more charming visit, nor a more delightful host and hostess. He told us about his travels with Admiral FitzRoy, he told us about birds, he told us about fishes, he told us about the tortoises in the Island of Ascension, hatched from the eggs in the sand and starting off and plunging into

[page] 184

the sea, and, "by Jove," says he, "the little tortoises, without compass or experience, sail straight by the nearest way to Algiers. It's perfectly wonderful." Then he announced he should go to rest. "These ladies" he said, "are good enough to carry me off and read me to sleep when they think I'm getting over excited."

At breakfast he appeared, having breakfasted, and sat in an arm-chair and talked about Madame de Sevigne. He said when they were all young, they knew her letters so well that they nicknamed their friends by the names of her characters, the obliging Haqueville and so on.

We walked in the garden, and he showed us his worms which had just been turned out of the study, after a course of French horn.

After we came home, there arrived a present for the children from him, a long sliding board to be leant against the stairs, and up and down which the children slide with delight.

The day we should have really gone he was taken with his fatal illness. These two happy days were the last bright flash of that glorious life.

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

File last updated 7 December, 2022