This volume is part of the definitive edition of letters written by and to Charles Darwin, the most celebrated naturalist of the nineteenth century. Notes and appendixes put these fascinating and wide-ranging letters in context, making the letters accessible to both scholars and general readers. Darwin depended on correspondence to collect data from all over the world, and to discuss his emerging ideas with scientific colleagues, many of whom he never met in person. The letters are published chronologically: volume 26 includes letters from 1878, the year in which Darwin with his son Francis carried out experiments on plant movement and bloom on plants. Francis spent the summer at a botanical research institute in Germany; and father and son exchanged many detailed letters about his work. Meanwhile, Darwin tried to secure government support for attempts by one of his Irish correspondents to breed a blight-resistant potato.
Frederick Burkhardt (1912-2007), the founder of the Darwin Correspondence Project, was President of Bennington College, Vermont (1947-57), and President of the American Council of Learned Societies (1957-74). Before founding the Darwin Correspondence Project in 1974, he was already at work on an edition of the papers of the philosopher William James. He received the Modern Language Association of America's first Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters in 1991, the Founder's Medal of the Society for the History of Natural History in 1997, the Thomas Jefferson Gold Medal of the American Philosophical Society in 2003 and a special citation for outstanding service to the history of science from the History of Science Society in 2005. James A. Secord has served as Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project since 2006. He is also Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ's College. Besides his work for the Darwin Project, his research focuses on the history of science from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. His book, Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (2001) won the Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society. He has recently written on scientific conversation, scrapbook-keeping and public scientific displays.
List of illustrations; List of letters; Introduction; Acknowledgments; List of provenances; Note on editorial policy; Darwin/Wedgwood genealogy; Abbreviations and symbols; The correspondence; Appendix I. Translations; Appendix II. Chronology; Appendix III. Diplomas; Appendix IV. Reviews of Forms of flowers; Manuscript alterations and comments; Biographical register and index to correspondents; Bibliography; Notes on manuscript sources; Index.