Letters Relating to George John Romanes
A comprehensive collection of Romanes' correspondence may be
found in Darwin’s Disciple: George John Romanes, a
Life in Letters, by Joel S. Schwartz.
American Philosophical Society. 2010 (Click Here). This collates letters from various
editions of Ethel Romanes' biography of GJR, from Addison Gulick's 1932
biography of his father, and from various archives in the USA and the UK.
The nucleus of the Romanes
collection in the Archives of Queen's University at Kingston was established in
the 1990s as the Mabel Ringereide papers (#2324.2, 4 boxes). The originals of the letters below and
some other Romanes-related materials have been added. The Queen's Archives also
hold nineteenth century materials relating to Romanes' friend Grant Allen. There
are also materials (e.g. correspondence with various Queen's University
mainly relate to George Romanes (father of GJR).
Donald R. Forsdyke, August 2010
In 2009, Romanes'
grand-daughter, Joan Westmacott, placed several albums of letters and
press-cuttings (reviews of Romanes' books) in the Bodleian Library,
Oxford. Since these are annotated in Romanes' hand (e.g. a letter from
Darwin dated March 29th was noted as "My last letter from Darwin"), we may
assume that the albums were originally prepared by Romanes. There are many
blank pages, suggesting that some materials have been removed.
Donald R. Forsdyke, May 2011
The little-known poetry of Romanes, through which he expressed both his
grief at the loss of his great mentor, and his religious doubts, is dealt
with by J. David Pleins, a Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Clara
University, USA. See: In Praise of Darwin: George Romanes
and the Evolution of a Darwian Believer,
by J. David Pleins. Bloomsbury Academic, New York. 2014. (Click Here)
Donald R. Forsdyke, August 2014
Correspondence between Ethel Romanes and T. H. Huxley is contained in
Chapter 5 of Tomorrow's Cures Today?
entitled: Huxley and the Philosopher's Wife.
Another Case History of Evaluation in Science (Harwood Academic,
Amsterdam. 2000, pp. 35-54). This deals with Huxley's attack on Romanes
and the role of Romanes' wife/widow in his work. (Click Here)
Donald R. Forsdyke, September 2016
Letter on Sully's
Editor of Nineteenth Century Nov 16th 1891
Letter to Miss Anne Ingham
March 11th 1892
Letters from Ethel Romanes
June 1894 to Sir Henry Acland
Postcard from August Weismann
Feb 1895 to Professor Lloyd Morgan
Catalogue of the Papers of George John Romanes 1867-1927 in Bodleian Library, Oxford
from Bodleian collection viewed by DRF May 2011
from Michael Foster: Shelford, Oct. 30th
|Probably in 1873-4 when GJR moved from Cambridge to research in
London. It implies that GJR had written to Foster asking for an
introduction to J. B. Sanderson: "Dear
Romanes, I was very glad to hear from you again. I had been wondering
what had become of you. Here is an introduction to Sanderson - I hope
that you will find everything there that you want. I wish I could have
had the credit of your work for the laboratory here. I suppose you
have no wish to go to Naples - A place in Dohrn's Zoological Station
is now vacant - I [?] one of the places which the University has a
right to file - & if you cared about going, I have no doubt I could
get you appointed to the place. It is of course more for morphological
than physiological work but the latter can be done there and there is
no end to be done. Ever yours truly, M. Foster"
from W. Sharpey: March 31th 1876
associated with JBS at University College: "Dear Miss Romanes,
Please kindly convey my best compliments to Mrs. Romanes and say that
I shall have much pleasure in complying with her kind invitation to
dinner on Saturday the 8th April at 7. Believe me, Yours very
sincerely, W. Sharpey."
from Charles Darwin: Dec. 13th 1880
|Postscript at end of 4 page letter about Romanes' experiments:
"I hear that Mr. S. Butler abuses me as a
liar & scoundrel in his new book, but I do not intend to look at it."
Romanes took the bait, replying on
December 14th (see letter in Schwart's book):
"Samuel Butler is a lunatic beneath contempt
- an object of pity were it not for his vein of malice."
[Schwartz leaves a gap for the name, as did
Ethel Romanes in her biography.]
from Alfred Newton: Jan. 13th 1882
|This was written from 44 Davies Street, Berkeley Square W., during
a visit of AN from Cambridge to London. It concerns the social nature
of birds and is in the section of these pages on Newton and
cuckoo's .Click Here
from Francis Galton: Oct. 16th 1885
|Thanks GJR for care of peas, which FG will now measure and
classify. Also wants GJR to send him "the
account of your own experiments."
from Sir John A Macdonald, when visiting London: Dec. 24th 1885
|..."I am going out of town for
some days but hope on my return to be able to arrange to dine with you
before my departure to Canada. In the hope of having that pleasure ...
from J. W. L. Glaister for the Royal Astronomical Society: Jan. 18th 1887
|"... if you can give any information with
regard to the observatory at Kingston (Canada). An instrument - the
Beaufort Equatorial [? spelling] - was lent to the observatory in 1883
and was transmitted by you to Kingston (& we have your acknowledgement
of having received it).
Instruments lent by the
Society are applied for every year, & if they are required for a
further period by those to whom they are lent, a fresh application has
to be made to the Society. For some years - five or six - the usual
notice has been sent to the "Director of the Observatory" at Kingston,
but no reply has ever been received. Can you therefore kindly tell me
the name of the Director, or suggest someone to whom you think I had
better apply. If so I should feel very much indebted to you. Yours
faithfully, J. W. L. Glaister"
from Max Muller: June 25th 1887
|"I look forward with interest to your paper in
Nature. I may be right or wrong, but the question of the
inseparability of language and thought ought to be settled."
Letter to Miss Anne Ingham congratulating her on
her engagement: March 11th 1892
Pall Mall S. W.
My very dear Sister Annie,
It is a shame of me to have been so long in writing to congratulate you on your
happiness. But the truth is that I have been rendered so much the reverse of
happy by constant headaches and no less constant accumulation of work, that,
short of what has been absolutely necessary, my correspondence has been allowed
Today, however, I find myself suddenly called to London - on business with the
G. O. M. of all men in the world, in order to fix date, subject, etc., for his
lecture at Oxford. I have just been lunching with him and Mrs. G. round
the corner, and now have an hour with nothing to do till the train starts at
Paddington. So I will utilize it by trying to show that my delay in writing to
you has not been due to the want of appropriate sentiments.
That one of your experience has made a good choice it would be hard to doubt,
and therefore it is not to be expected that your life henceforth will be other
than a happy one. Long may it last and never may your newer ties tend to loosen
those older ones, which have been so closely drawn between you and your most
Transcript made by DRF and Joan Westmacott from
original letter in possession of Joan Westmacott, September 29th 2001, on the
occasion of her visit to Canada to see her paternal grandfather's birthplace,
and her great grand-mother's first Canadian residence - the old manse at
Three letters purchased by DRF in
2008 from Julian Browning Rare Books and Manuscripts, London, are deposited as
part of the Romanes Collection in the Archives of Queen's University.
Transcripts from originals made by DRF.
from Ethel Romanes to Sir Henry Acland concerning the recent death of George
Both hand-written on paper
with black borders with watermark ""King of Kent,
Pencil mark #174 with
"Thoughts on Religion" at top in pencil [probably 1894]
probably Henry Wentworth Ackland (1815-1900) Regius Professor of Medicine at
Oxford, one time personal physician to Queen Victoria and model for Lewis
Carroll's white rabbit. He was much concerned with public sanitation and
underground sewers, which he could be seen inspecting from time to time.
My dear Sir
Thank you so very much. I cannot help feeling that you h no id what this means
to me. But for George I can only be thankfull, & I suppose God will help me
to bear what seems impossible - living without him who was the joy &
sunshine of my life. Please give my kind regards to Mrs Acland.
Oxford June 5
Pencil mark #173. Address given just as "Oxford" with
date "June 15" [probably 1894]
My dear Sir
I've been talking to the Dean, & we both think the "Guardian"
notices had better appear as prefaces to George's poems. Thank you so much for
thinking about me so [erased] [undecipherable]. I send you his sonnets.
I've had such
a kind letter from Mr. Gladstone, thank you so much for sending him the
from August Weismann to Professor Lloyd Morgan, University College, Bristol,
about locating a passage quoted by the late Mr. Romanes
Pencil mark on front of card
"Heape 147", perhaps referring to a collection of letters in the
possession of Walter Heape. Addressed in Weismann's hand to Professor C. Lloyd
Morgan, University College, Bristol, England. Postmarked Freiburg 14.2. 95
I have not
been able to find the passage quoted by the late Mr. Romanes. It must be
contained in one of my memoirs previous to the Germplasm. Should I still find
it, I shall tell you.
14 Febr. 1895
Romanes and Evolution of Mind (Click Here)
Romanes and Evolutionary Biology (Click Here)
Romanes & Physiological Selection (1886) (Click Here)
Romanes Meets His Critics (1887) (Click Here)
Romanes Early Career & Religion (Click Here)
Romanes Versus Alfred Newton (Click Here)
Romanes, Grant Allen, Wallace & Gould (Click Here)
Romanes, Wallace & Agnes Machar
History of Queen's University
This page was established in 2001 and was last
edited 13 Sep 2016
by Donald R. Forsdyke