DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
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DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)

Autograph letter signed ('Ch. Darwin') to [Richard Trevor Clarke] ('My dear Sir'), Down, 29 November [1862].

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DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882)
Autograph letter signed ('Ch. Darwin') to [Richard Trevor Clarke] ('My dear Sir'), Down, 29 November [1862].
Four pages, 202 x 126mm, bifolium. Provenance: Kaneo Nanjo (1873-1948), former president of Mitsui & Co. – by descent. Later envelope.

Darwin on strawberries, gathering data for a chapter in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868). An unpublished letter; not recorded by the Darwin Correspondence Project. Thanking his correspondent for his information, 'which is very decisive. It is now clear that the Woods & Hautbois crossed with the American Pine ?class are extremely sterile, just as Mr Williams and A. Knight found them. Yet Mr W.F. Radclyffe writes to me that the Belle Bordelaise Hautbois is from a cross between the Alpine & old Hautbois; & that Peabodys seedling (American) is descended from the Hautbois crossed by some other Strawberry. If these cases are authentic some other plant must have been more fertile than your single seedlings'. Darwin professes himself very interested in Clarke's hybrid, which sent up a spike [of bloom] very closely resembling Hautbois: 'This case interests me much because I have got others of some mysterious tendency in the central flower or spike to change its character & retrograde. Would you have the great kindness to inform me, whether your plant produced at the same time this kind of fruit?'. He would 'be delighted to have a plant if you can spare one. Will it be the parent hybrid form, or the new & changed form?', adding as a post-script an address for parcels, 'care of Down Postman'.

In a letter published in the Journal of Horticulture on 25 November 1862 (DCP-LETT-3826), Darwin asks if 'any of your correspondents who have attended to the history of the Strawberry, [will] kindly inform me whether any of the kinds now, or formerly, cultivated have been raised from a cross between any of the Woods or Alpines with the Scarlets, Pines, and Chilis?'. He was at that time preparing a draft for the part of Variation dealing with ‘Facts of variation of Plants’: varieties of cultivated strawberries are discussed on pp. 351–4. His letter to the Journal of Horticulture elicited an immediate response from horticulturist Colonel Richard Trevor Clarke, who supplied specimens to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Clarke wrote to Darwin with his observations on strawberry hybrids (DCP-LETT-3829), offering to send a fruiting plant in a pot.
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