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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Revealed: Darwin's memory box
Down House, Kent,
Down House, Kent, where Darwin lived for 40 years. Image: English Heritage
Mementoes that offer an insight into the private life of Charles Darwin are revealed for the first time this week.

Poignant notes written by the Victorian scientist about his eldest daughter, Annie, who died from tuberculosis at the age of 10, go on public display at the house where he wrote the book, On the Origin of Species.

Writing box
Two of Darwin's great-great-great grandchildren holding the writing box
The centrepiece of the exhibition at Down House near Bromley, Kent, is a newly discovered writing box containing keepsakes of Annie's life collected by Darwin and his wife Emma.

The box was discovered by Darwin's great-great grandson Randal Keynes. It includes notes of Annie's illness by Darwin, some personal items and a lock of her hair.

'Treasured' items

On discovering the box, which had been handed down through the generations of his family, Mr Keynes researched the subject of Annie's death and its effect on Darwin for a book.

Charles Darwin by George Richmond
Early portrait of Charles Darwin by George Richmond. Image: English Heritage.
Mr Keynes said: "Discovering the box was a strange moment. When I saw the notes by Darwin about Annie's illness and the things she treasured as a child it was quite striking.

"It brought home to me that there was more to this little writing box."

Mr Keynes's father, Prof Richard Keynes, who owns the box, has lent it to English Heritage to be displayed at Down House.

The exhibition is to run until October 7.

See also:

24 Sep 00 | Science/Nature
19 Feb 01 | Entertainment
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