[Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist and friend of Charles Darwin.] Autograph Letter Signed ('Thomas H. Huxley'), a highly unusual response to an autograph hunter he names as 'Mrs. or Miss …... x ..?'

T. H. Huxley [Thomas Henry Huxley] (1825-1895), biologist, friend and supporter of Charles Darwin
Publication details: 
On letterhead of the Geological Survey of England and Wales. 28 January 1871.
SKU: 21444

4pp, 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to edge of reverse of second leaf, and impinging slightly on the final 'y' of Huxley's signature. Addressed at the foot of the last leaf to 'Mrs. or Miss …... x ..?' Certainly one of the more unusual responses received by an autograph hunter: 'Dear Madam | I venture to address you in this way because men never ask for autographs which have no legal value - | It is an awkward task which has been set me – that of writing to a lady whom I have not the honour to know, about nothing – And, having succeeded thus far, I think I cannot take any step more wise, prudent and indeed, I may say, statesmanlike, than that of immediately subscribing myself, with all that respect one has for the Unknown (and Wholly Unknowable, but not in Mr Spencers sense) | Your obedient | Servant | Thomas H. Huxley'. The reference is Huxley's friend Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). From the distinguished autograph collection of Richard Hunter, son of Ida Macalpine, whose collection of 7000 books relating to psychiatry is in Cambridge University Library. Macalpine and Hunter had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.