Dear Mr. Darwin: Women and the Epistolary Tradition in the Nineteenth-Century Sciences


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Liberal Arts and International Studies


"Dear Mr. Darwin" examines Charles Darwin's correspondence with American and British women writers and demonstrates the unique and largely unrecognized role that women nature observers, both amateur and professional, played in providing Darwin with empirical data that bolstered the arguments for co-adaptation and interspecies relationships that he articulated in Descent of Man (1871) and Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). This study argues that while Darwin may have followed self-serving ends in his quest for knowledge, the women he corresponded with saw in his letters an equal opportunity to advance their scientific and political ideas and to recuperate the terms of evolution to bolster their arguments for suffrage, professional recognition, and animal rights.