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Charles Darwin complains about his library book, 1844

Darwin letter
GSL/L/R/8/92 - Secretary's In Letters: from Charles Darwin, Down, Kent, [January 1844].

Arguably the Society’s most famous Fellow is the naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Although he is now known for his theories concerning natural selection and evolution, he began life as a geologist – eagerly joining the Geological Society on his way back from the Voyage of the Beagle in 1836 where he would be greeted with great acclaim.

This letter shows some of the more day to day business of the Society, in this case Darwin complaining that a map of South America is missing from the book he has just been sent [through postal loan from the Library]. Darwin was probably working on his publication ‘Geological Observations on South America’ (1846) at this time, so the letter gives evidence of one of the sources he consulted.

Not only does the Society’s Library still operate a postal loan service for Fellows, we also still hold the book which Darwin borrowed – Alcide d’Orbigny’s ‘Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale’ (1842). To avoid future difficulties, the map is now bound safely at the back of the volume.

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