New Darwin letter goes on display

IPSWICH Museum has today unveiled a fascinating addition to its corridors of exhibits.

Tom Potter

IPSWICH Museum has today unveiled a fascinating addition to its corridors of exhibits.

The perfectly preserved letter written by Charles Darwin is today being proudly displayed after it was discovered completely by chance.

The amazing find came just days after the bicentenary of the famous scientist's birth and ahead of the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work 'On the origin of Species'.


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Darwin has long been connected with Ipswich Museum through his friendship with botanist and geologist John Stevens Henslow.

Henslow was Charles Darwin's tutor at Cambridge and was also responsible for bringing most of the natural history collection that is today on display at the museum.

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The letter was found while documentation officer Joan Llyall was searching through the museum archives.

She said: “I had watched a BBC programme presented by Sir David Attenborough and learnt that Charles Darwin had been a prolific letter writer.

“I ran a search on our museum documentation software using 'Darwin' and a record appeared but with no location, so I checked to see if there was a history file and there was the letter.”

Jerry Bowdrey, the museum's senior curator of natural history, said: “The key thing is that Darwin scholars were until now unaware of this letter's existence. It forms a link between two previously known letters.

“It's a fantastic object to have been written and signed by Darwin himself.”

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