RECORD: Thiselton-Dyer, William Turner. 1882.04.21. Letter to Francis Darwin. CUL-DAR215.8g. Edited by John van Wyhe (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2021. Corrections by Anne Secord 4.2022. RN3

NOTE: See record in the Darwin Online manuscript catalogue, enter its Identifier here. Reproduced with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library and William Huxley Darwin.

"Thiselton-Dyer, Sir William Turner, 1843-1928. Botanist. Married Harriet Anne Hooker. 1876 D helped CD with experiments for Insectivorous plants. 1877 Reviewed Fertilisation. 1879 D helped CD with botanical material from Kew, e.g. 1879 CD to D, on a species of Oxalis. 1880 FRS. 1882 D was on "Personal Friends invited" list for CD's funeral. Visited CD with Ray Lankester in 1875 Jul. 18. Came to Down with Balfour in 1878 Jan. 26-28, came with Crawleys Jan. 18 1879. One more visit before CD's death was made in Jan. 7-9. Many more visits until 1894 Apr. 27. 1885-1905 Director of Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, in succession to Hooker." (Paul van Helvert & John van Wyhe, Darwin: A Companion, 2021)



Kew, April 21. 1882

My dear friend

It would be idle for me to attempt to say a word more to you in the terrible affliction which has befallen your family


than to tell you with how profound a shock and with what deep distress we heard the news of your father's death yesterday afternoon

To me it comes with an absolutely stunning blow. I feel you will not think my saying this an [impertinence] with the weakness which one is too apt to show where one's affections are touched. I as you know refused to allow myself to contemplate the possibility of this


dreaded event being in the immediate future. Your father was not merely in my eyes the most august name in modern science. Besides this he was a man whom I deeply venerated, & if I may say so loved. His character and


temperament gave to the business of scientific work a dignity of which the smallest labourer in the field could not but share the moral influence.

I have felt it the greatest encouragement


of my life to know him personally and contribute even the smallest aid to his work. Through the rest of my days I shall look back to the recollection of what I have seen of him as to a secret treasure.

His passing away will leave a sad blank here. His interest and enthusiasm lifted so much that was tedious out of the ruck of routine and made it seem worth doing.

To my wife it will


give even a deeper pain. So much of the delight of her child-life is associated with your father and with Down

Ever yours sincerely

W. T. Thiselton Dyer

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

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