Francis Darwin
Sir Francis "Frank" Darwin, FRS (16 August 1848 – 19 September 1925), a son of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 naturalist and scientist Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

, followed his father into botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...



Francis Darwin was born in Down House
Down House
Down House is the former home of the English naturalist Charles Darwin and his family. It was in this house and garden that Darwin worked on his theories of evolution by natural selection which he had conceived in London before moving to Downe....

, Downe
Downe is a village in the London Borough of Bromley in London, UK.Downe is south west of Orpington and south east of Charing Cross. Downe lies in a wooded valley, and much of the centre of the village is unchanged; the former village school now acts as the village hall.-Darwin:Charles Darwin...

, Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 in 1848. He was the third son and seventh child of Charles Darwin and his wife Emma
Emma Darwin
Emma Darwin was the wife and first cousin of Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, scientist and author of On the Origin of Species...


Darwin went to Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, first studying mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, then changing to natural sciences, graduating in 1870. He then went to study medicine at St George's Medical School
St George's, University of London
St George's, University of London is a medical school located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

, London, earning an MB in 1875, but did not practice medicine.

Darwin was married three times and widowed twice. First he married Amy Ruck in 1874, but she died in 1876 four days after the birth of their son Bernard Darwin
Bernard Darwin
Bernard Richard Meirion Darwin CBE JP a grandson of the British naturalist Charles Darwin, was a golf writer and high-standard amateur golfer. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.-Biography:...

, who was later to become a golf writer. In September 1883 he married Ellen Crofts and they had a daughter Frances Crofts Darwin
Frances Cornford
Frances Crofts Cornford was an English poet.She was the daughter of the botanist Francis Darwin and Ellen Crofts, born into the Darwin — Wedgwood family. She was a granddaughter of the British naturalist Charles Darwin. Her elder half-brother was the golf writer Bernard Darwin...

 (1886–1960), a poet who married the poet Francis Cornford and became known under her married name. Ellen died in 1903. His third wife was Florence Henrietta Fisher
Florence Henrietta Darwin
Florence Henrietta, Lady Darwin, , was an English playwright.Florence Henrietta Fisher was born in Kensington, London, the daughter of Herbert William Fisher , author of Considerations on the Origin of the American War and his wife Mary Louisa Jackson...

, daughter of Herbert William Fisher
Herbert William Fisher
Herbert William Fisher was a British historian, best known for his book Considerations on the Origin of the American War ....

 and widow of Frederic William Maitland
Frederic William Maitland
Frederic William Maitland was an English jurist and historian, generally regarded as the modern father of English legal history.-Biography:...

, whom he married in 1913, the year in which he was knighted
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

. Her sister Adeline Fisher was the first wife of Darwin's second cousin once removed Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...


Francis Darwin worked with his father on experiments dealing with plant movements, specifically phototropism
Phototropism is directional growth in which the direction of growth is determined by the direction of the light source. In other words, it is the growth and response to a light stimulus. Phototropism is most often observed in plants, but can also occur in other organisms such as fungi...

 and they co-authored The Power of Movement in Plants
The Power of Movement in Plants
The Power of Movement in Plants is a book by Charles Darwin on phototropism and other types of movement in plants. This book continues his work in producing evidence for his theory of natural selection...

(1880). Their experiments showed that the coleoptile
A cotyledon , is a significant part of the embryo within the seed of a plant. Upon germination, the cotyledon may become the embryonic first leaves of a seedling. The number of cotyledons present is one characteristic used by botanists to classify the flowering plants...

 of a young grass seedling directs its growth toward the light by comparing the responses of seedlings with covered and uncovered coleoptiles. These observations would later lead to the discovery of auxin.

Darwin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on June 8, 1882, the same year in which his father died. Darwin edited The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
The Autobiography of Charles Darwin is the autobiography of the British naturalist Charles Darwin which was published in 1887, five years after his death....

(1887), and produced some books of letters from the correspondence of Charles Darwin
Correspondence of Charles Darwin
The British naturalist Charles Darwin had correspondence with numerous other luminaries of his age and members of his family. These have provided many insights about the nineteenth century, from scientific exploration and travel to religious debate and discussion...

; The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1887) and More Letters of Charles Darwin (1905). He also edited Thomas Huxley
Thomas Huxley
Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS was an English biologist, known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution....

's On the Reception of the Origin of Species (1887).

He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground
Ascension Parish Burial Ground, Cambridge
The Ascension Parish Burial Ground, formerly St Giles and St Peter's Parish, is a cemetery just off Huntingdon Road near the junction with Storey's Way in the northwest of Cambridge, England. It includes the graves of many Cambridge academics and non-conformists of the 19th and early 20th century...

 in Cambridge.

Further reading

  • Ayres, Peter. "The Aliveness of Plants: The Darwins at the Dawn of Plant Science" London: PIckering & Chatto, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85196-970-8
  • Darwin, Francis Sacheverell. (1927). Travels in Spain and the East, 1808-1810. Cambridge University press (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108004312)

External links

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