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Collection Level Description: Correspondence and papers of Cyril Dean Darlington, FRS

Reference: MSS. Darlington b. 1-3, c. 1-118, d. 1-24, e. 1-21, f. 1-36, g. 1-45
Title: Correspondence and papers of Cyril Dean Darlington, FRS
Dates of Creation: 1879-1981
Extent: 247 boxes
Language of Material: English

Administrative/Biographical History

Cyril Dean Darlington, cytogeneticist and evolutionist, was born on 19 December 1903 in Chorley, Lancashire. When he was eight, his family moved to London, where he attended Mercers' School. In 1917 he won a foundation scholarship at St. Paul's School.

Intending to become a farmer in Australia, Darlington attended South Eastern Agricultural College at Wye. He graduated with a B.Sc. in 1923. He applied for an Empire Cotton Corporation scholarship, but was unsuccessful. He accepted a position as a volunteer unpaid worker at the John Innes Horticultural Institution (JIHI). This position became permanent (and paid) in 1924. He was appointed cytologist in 1928, became head of the cytology department in 1937, and from 1939 he also served as as Director of the JIHI. He was elected FRS in 1941, and received the royal medal in 1946. In 1947 he founded Heredity with geneticist R.A. Fisher. He led the exposure of Soviet atrocities against geneticists led by Trofim Lysenko.

In 1953 Darlington left the JIHI to accept the Sherardian Chair of Botany at Oxford University, and became a keeper of the Oxford Botanic Garden. He created the Genetic Garden, and played an active role in the acquisition of the Nuneham Courtenay Arboretum. He retired from the Sherardian Chair in 1971, but remained at the university writing and publishing. He died in Oxford in 1981.

Darlington's numerous publications include: Recent Advances in Cytology (1932), Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants (1945), The Facts of Life (1953), Genetics and Man (1964), The Evolution of Man and Society (1969), and The Little Universe of Man (1978).

Scope and Content

Biographical and personal:

John Innes Horticultural Institution:




Lectures and broadcasts

Societies and organisations

Visits and Conferences


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was assembled at various dates between August 1981 and March 1985, from Darlington's room at the Department of Botany, Oxford, and his home at South Hinksey, Oxford, through the courtesy of his widow, Mrs. Gwendolen Darlington, and of Professor P.D.A. Harvey, his stepson and literary executor.

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Access Points





Darlington | Cyril Dean | 1903-1981 | scientist

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