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Letters from Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, editor of the Nineteenth Century (1909-1910)


Archive: Westminster City Council Archives

Reference: James Knowles' Papers, 716/84

Date Range: 10 July 1908 - 6 September 1910

Number of sheets: 8

Number of letters: 8


Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I wasn't able to completely document or photograph all of the Skilbeck items at this archive. Below however is the majority summarised. Skilbeck became editor of the Nineteenth Century and After in 1908 upon the death of his father-in-law James Knowles.


Piotr Kropotkin to Editor of the Nineteenth Century, 10 July 1908

Sending you a letter from a friend of mine (Mr Georges Chrustaleff) an article for the 19th Century. He is likely not unknown to you and was a leading man in that Council of Workers Deputies. He is now a refugee having escaped Siberia and lives near Paris. The article seems interesting to me


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 16 November 1909

I have lately been working hard on my series of articles on ethics which began some years ago in the 19th C. Now I am finishing the third of the series. I intended to send it to you in the first days of this month but am not quite ready. In my last ethics article I spoke of the first part of my trilogy - mutual aid - and of how the habits of animals must have influenced the conceptions of our earliest ancestors. I found however from letters received that I must go further and discuss seriously questions of Darwinian struggle for life - and Mutual Aid. It is a big question as it requires a critical analysis of Natural Selection, but of the deepest interest just now, when Lamarckism is coming so prominently to the front. So I have come into it thoroughly in the form of an analysis of the evolution of Darwin's ideas after the publication of the Origin of Species, as it appears from the 5 volumes of his letters. It will take me two articles to do it - the second being almost entirely devoted to Lamarckism and Darwinism.


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 29 November 1909

I hope thats interesting enough for the 19th C. Will send you the first article as soon as I can in a week or so. Second nearly all written. Mr James said he would allow me 20 pages for each and pay me £40 for each. Shall we keep to this?


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 14 April 1910

Second half of the article attached. Was difficult to write as there were so many writers and ideas to discuss so I focused it around plants, leaving the animals for a later one. - possibly the Animals Response to their environment. Weismann's hypotheses might be dealt with in this later sketch. I never imagined there would be such a mass of evidence in favour of the direct action of the environment, never mentioned in several excellent recent books on Darwinism, and such a consensus of opinions in favour of the action of environment among botanists. Some professors in Geneva have helped me but I have been working on this for months.


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 1 June 1910

The subject I have dealt with in my paper seems to attract a great deal of interest. I attended a lecture at the Royal Society last week from a German Prof Krebs (Invited from Heidelberg) on this subject (Alterations in the Development of forms of Plants as a Result of Environment). he spoke exclusively of his own work. But this is a small part of all the things I analysed for my article. The intense interest shown by the audience and the members who spoke after the lecture proved that this topic is of great interest in biology right now


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 20 July 1910

Thank you for the £40 cheque. So glad you liked the article. I am afraid to follow so soon with the other one on animals and took some other work but will get to it soon. Should be ready in a couple of months.


Piotr Kropotkin to W. Wray Skilbeck, 6 September 1910

I would like to see you for ten minutes or so about Ray Lankester's article. I am in town for the next few days in the mornings. Could I call upon you some day?


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