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Books by Charles Darwin from the Library of Caroline Wedgwood, née Darwin Lots 1-12
Manuscripts by Charles Darwin Lots 13-17
Natural History 18-61
The Property of His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent G.C.V.O. Lots 62-72
Topographical, Architectural, Art, and Costume Books Lots 73-82
Cartography Lots 83-102
BOOKS BY CHARLES DARWIN FROM THE LIBRARY OF CAROLINE WEDGWOOD, née DARWIN
This collection has a unique provenance within Darwin's own immediate family circle, for they all belonged to his beloved sister, Caroline Sarah; one work is inscribed by Darwin, and many others have presentation slips from the author. Charles was unquestionably close to Caroline, his senior by nine years. His earliest childhood recollection was as a four-year-old 'sitting on Caroline's knee in the dining room, whilst she was cutting an orange for me' (Correspondence II, p. 438). She gave him his first lessons, and following the death of their mother, Susannah, in 1817, the two older sisters, Marianne and Caroline, took charge of the Darwin household. Caroline wrote to Charles in 1826, some months after he had started his medical studies in Edinburgh, saying: 'I think the time when you and Catherine were little children and I was always with you and thinking about you was the happiest part of my life and I dare say always will be'. Charles dubbed Caroline and Susan 'the sisterhood', they were so constantly paired, and in Janet Browne's words 'central to his early life' (Charles Darwin, I, 2003, p. 11). In 1822 they started an infant school in the poor district of Frankland, funded by their father. They corresponded frequently with their brother during his voyage on the Beagle (1831-36), also reading his diary assiduously and commenting on it critically. Caroline was the more maternal, finishing one letter of 1833: 'Sitting and writing in this old school room makes me feel so Motherly to you dear Tactus'. John Bowlby observes that 'from the start of the voyage to its very end, when Charles had turned twenty-seven, the old relationships between him and his elder sisters, whose duty it was still to scold and improve him, continued unchanged' (Charles Darwin, 1990, p. 200). Their niece, Henrietta Litchfield, recorded that: 'Caroline and Susan Darwin both had high spirits, abounding life and deep feeling. Caroline was not regularly handsome but her appearance was very effective; she had brilliant eyes and colouring, and black hair growing low on her wide forehead' (Emma Darwin: A Century of Family Letters, 1915, I, pp. 140-41). Bowlby's view is that 'vivacious and popular, with a passion for riding, Caroline is thought none the less to have had some of the formality and stiffness associated with the Darwin household' (p. 66).
Returning from his world voyage in October 1836, Darwin spent comparatively little time at The Mount; until her marriage, Caroline's letters kept him in touch with home; it is also clear that he discussed geological questions with her, and relied on her to do research in the family library. Their coninuing affection for each other is particularly clear in two letters of 1837, Caroline writing to her brother from Shrewsbury, 21 February: 'we pass vy quiet lives, one day so like another that it is difficult to write ... what a vy pleasant 3 days we had together at Maer -- I would not have missed meeting you there on any account'. In his reply from Cambridge on 27 February, Charles answered her enquiries about the views of Lyell and Herschell, before ending his letter: 'My dear Caroline, write soon. I do so like hearing from home, and never mind whether the letters contain any news or not -- only write, write, write --' (Correspondence II, pp. 7-9).
The idea of a marriage between Caroline and her cousin and Staffordshire neighbour, Josiah Wedgwood III (1795-1880), known as Joe or Jos, was broached by the latter's mother, Bessy, at least 13 years before it happened. Bessy wrote to her sister, Fanny Allen, 15 December 1824, whilst staying with the Darwins in Shrewsbury: 'I find myself very comfortable here, the Dr is very kind and I am always very fond of Caroline. I wish I could inspire Joe with my sentiments, for I should like her for my daughter more than anybody I know. I have been with her today at her infant school, and I could scarcely refrain from tears, but not of sorrow, at seeing the little creatures, all at the word of command, drop down on their knees and say the Lord's Prayer' (H. Litchfield, Emma Darwin, I, pp. 163-64).
Charles wrote delightedly to an old friend, W.D. Fox, on 7 July 1837, announcing his sister's engagement: 'Caroline is going to be married to Jos Wedgwood ... I do not know whether you recollect him, he is the eldest son. -- He is a very quiet grave man, with very much to respect & like in him, but I wish he would put himself forward more. He has a most wonderful deal of information, & is a very superior person; but he has not made the most of himself. -- I am very glad of the marriage for Caroline's sake, as I think she will be a very happy person, especially if she has children, for I never saw a human being so fond of little crying wretches, as she is' (Correspondence, II, p. 29). Caroline was thirty-seven when she married Jos on 1 August 1837. The couple first lived in Clayton, a Staffordshire hamlet, two miles south-west of Stoke-on-Trent, the site of the Etruria potteries.
These family copies of Darwin's works therefore commemorate both the close sibling relationship between Charles and Caroline, and the remarkable interdependence between the Darwin and Wedgwood families, traceable back to Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-1795) and Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802). Apart from his business partner, Thomas Bentley, the closest friend of the master potter was Erasmus, his family doctor, an early adherent of evolution, best known today through his versified work, The Botanic Garden. Both men were grandfather to Charles Darwin. Josiah Wedgwood I and his wife, Sarah, had seven children between 1765 and 1778, and the eldest, Susannah, Josiah's favourite, married Erasmus Darwin's son, Robert: Charles Darwin was their fifth child. The three surviving sons were John, Josiah II and Tom. In his youth, Darwin often visited the estate of his uncle Josh at Maer, and it was his uncle who famously persuaded his father to let him sail on the Beagle (see Janet Browne, Charles Darwin, I, pp. 153-56). Little over a year after Caroline's marriage, Darwin married his sister-in-law, Emma Wedgwood (1808-1896), on 29 January 1839. Two days after the wedding Caroline's seven-week-old baby died. Although she had three more daughters, it was, like the death of Annie for Darwin, a blow from which she never fully recovered.
The books listed below would have been shelved at Leith Hill Place, Surrey, the four hundred acre estate to which the Wedgwoods moved, probably in 1848, though some sources state 1842, the year in which Josiah III sold his share in the pottery business. Charles and Emma were 'fairly regular' visitors to Leith Place where they would have seen these books prominently and proudly displayed.
By descent from Caroline Sarah Wedgwood (1800-1880) to her grandson, Dr. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), conveyed by him to his cousin, Ralph Wedgwood (1874-1956), thence by direct descent to Sir Martin Wedgwood.