Didn’t Darwin recant his theory of evolution on his deathbed, and embrace Christianity?

No, he didn’t.

This story was invented by a certain Lady Hope, who was an evangelical Christian and shameless liar. Her account was denied by Darwin’s own daughter, Henrietta, a devout Christian, who was with her father throughout his final illness.

For more on this subject, please see the Lady Hope Story (Talk Origins website).

Unfortunately, Lady Hope’s lie simply refuses to die. I review a very bad book perpetuating the myth here.

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…


  1. With respect to your claim that Lady Hope was a "shameless liar", the recent book by Dr.L.R.Croft, 'Darwin and Lady Hope -The Untold Story' claims she was a woman of 'absolute integrity'. Croft seems to have put forward a very good case, as seen in the recent review by Professor Michael Wheeler of University of Southampton, published in the Church Times on 24 August 2012. He states that [Croft] "may have a point and Lady Hope's narrative is certainly of compelling interest."

    1. I am aware of Dr Croft's book, as he keeps sending me fliers about it, and offered to send me a review copy. I accepted the offer, but advised him that I would be surprised in the extreme if I were convinced by anything he had to say. He did not send me a review copy.

      From the fliers I have been sent (which I accept might be misrepresentative), Dr Croft's argument seems to be that Lady Hope was a nice person, and did nice things, so therefore she couldn't be a liar. Your brief summary says pretty much the same. I am sure there must be more to Dr Croft's argument than that, but, as no indication is given in the fliers, I suspect it cannot be a convincing argument. The most convincing argument that Lady Hope was a liar is that Darwin's devout daughter (who would presumably have been delighted had her father actually had a deathbed conversion), said that Lady Hope never visited Down House. Darwin's daughter's word is good enough for me.

      I note that the positive review of Dr Croft's book was published in the Church Times. Hardly a bastion of neutrality in matters religious.

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