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Darlington never wrote, or at least never completed, an autobiography (see MS. Darlington c. 62/E.471 for a statement of his intention to do so). In another sense, his whole life could be seen as an autobiography, seen through his diaries and jotters, the many historical accounts - published and unpublished - of episodes in his career and of friends or enemies made and cherished, or in the more extended narratives compiled for the Royal Society and other organizations. To these must be added the innumerable comments and reflections added in manuscript and at various dates to virtually every document that passed through his hands - not excepting earlier stages of his own work and certainly not sparing letters and papers received from others. Viewed in this manner, few can have revealed themselves more fully, or more deliberately, for Darlington was among the most self-conscious of men, aware of himself as an actor in his own life, aware of the value of his work, and aware of the many interlocking factors and influences of nature and nurture, heredity and circumstance which constituted his person and his role.

This series contains the greatest number of overtly autobiographical and personal material in the form of narratives, diaries and jotters. Darlington's own career is more fully documented in Series B (John Innes) and C (Oxford) and there are relatively few honours, awards or records of public life, for Darlington was far from an establishment figure. On the other hand, the family correspondence is of some general interest as well as illuminating several aspects of Darlington's early career. The letters and cards exchanged with his parents (MSS. Darlington c. 5-7/A.169-195) are revealing of the seriousness, even austerity, of the Darlington family ambience and the seemingly affectionate and easy relations between parents and son. Mrs. Darlington especially, who writes to both her sons as 'My dear old' Alfred or Cyril, has a spontaneous charm of expression as well as, when required, a forthrightness worthy of Cyril.

Also in this series are records of Darlington's extreme care for his own publications, their progress and incorporation in an ongoing bibliography, and his lasting resentment of any tampering with them (or, as he put it, 'censorship' or 'suppression').


  • Creation: 1851-1981

Language of Materials

  • English

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom