Papers of William Bateson in the Cambridge University Library

The originals of the documents repatriated in 1975 by Alan G. Cock were deposited in the Cambridge University Library. The catalogue entry by CUL staff is recorded below. Errors (e.g. "Nikital Vavilov") have not been corrected. Under the heading "Immediate Sources of Acquisition" are the dates 1976 - 1987. This refers to the period of sorting and cataloguing carried out by Alan G. Cock with the help of various staff at the John Innes Horticultural Institute, especially Rosemary Harvey.

Donald Forsdyke, April 2011

A revised cataloguing and updating of the holdings of the John Innes Center, undertaken by Simon Coleman, is now available.

Donald Forsdyke, Jan 2015

There has been progress in digitalization with help from the Wellcome Trust:

The Bateson-Punnett notebooks:

Rona Hurst's amazing The Evolution of Genetics (1971) may soon be online:

for the Rona Hurst manuscript

Donald Forsdyke, Jan 2021


Queen's University Bateson Archive (Cock and Forsdyke): (Click Here)



William Bateson. Scientific Correspondence and Papers

Reference and contact details: GB 12 MS.Add.8634
Title:William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers
Dates of Creation: 19th - 20th century
Held at: Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
Extent: 14 boxes, 1 packet
Name of Creator: William Bateson
Language of Material: English
Level of Description: fonds

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entries on Bateson in the Concise dictionary of national biography, Part II, 1901-1970, p. 45 (Oxford University Press, 1982), and J.R.H. Weaver, ed., Dictionary of national biography, 1922-1930 (Oxford University Press, 1937), pp. 66-68.

Administrative/Biographical History

William Bateson (1861-1926), biologist, was the son of William Henry Bateson and brother of the historian Mary Bateson. He was educated at Rugby and St John's College, Cambridge, where he was also a Fellow from 1885 to 1910. Bateson studied embryology and in 1894 published Materials for the study of variation, in which he argued that discontinuous variation was the main source of evolutionary changes. In 1900 he discovered Gregor Mendel's Versuche uber Pflanzen-Hybriden. Over the next four years he championed Mendel's findings and put forward his own argument for a new doctrine of heredity. This led to the publication of Mendel's principles of heredity - a defence in 1902. Bateson termed his study of heredity and variation 'genetics'. In 1908 he became professor of biology at Cambridge, before becoming director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution, Merton, where he worked from 1910 to 1926. He married Beatrice, daughter of Arthur Durham, senior surgeon at Guy's Hospital, in 1896.

Scope and Content

Section A

1.a. Hampton and De Vries letters (only 2 surviving in the collection); b. Plymouth Marine Biol. Lab. letters (13 items, 1889-1890).

2. Letters from America, mainly from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson (45, 1907).

7. Quick Bequest: review of Burke (part only).

9.a. Letters regarding 'Materials' (6, 1894); b. Letters to Hopkins, Sherrington, and others (one missing); c. Vibratory Theory of Sequentation: MS by William Bateson, 'Vibratory Theory of Linear and Radial Sequentation as found in Living Bodies', 11 pages, undated.

Section B

10. Cineraria Controversy (25, 1895-1914).

11. Lecture notes by William Bateson (1897-1904).

13. Evolution Committee, Royal Society (6, 1888-1895).

14.a. R.C. Punnett's appointment (7, 1903-1904).

Section C

15.c. Evolution Committee, Royal Society (12, 1897); e. Punnett on the Evolution Committee, Royal Society, and other material (part only); f. Evolution Committee, Royal Society, part only.

16. Bernard's Symposium (12, 1900-1902).

18. Homotyposis (40, 1900-1909).

Section D

21.a. Letters, William Bateson to C.C. Hurst (229, 1902-1911); b. Correspondence between C. Beatrice Bateson and C.C. Hurst (4, 1928 and undated); c. Letters from C.C. Hurst to William Bateson (13, 1903-1906); d. Letters regarding the G.P. Mudge vs Karl Pearson controversies (4, 1908); e. Correspondence regarding C.C. Hurst's Eye-colour paper (14, 1907); f. Letters from C.C. Hurst to William Bateson (25, 1908-1911).

23.a. Letters from Robert H. Lock to William Bateson (34, 1902-1904); b. Letters from Robert H. Lock to William Bateson (13, 1908-1909).

27.a. Correspondence with A.D. Darbishire on Mendelism in Mice (28, 1902-1904)

Section E

32.a. Correspondence with Paul Kammerer, Klebs, etc., (8, 1910-1919); b. Kammerer correspondence (15, 1919-1923); c. Kammerer's 1923 American Tour (6, 1923-1924); d. Kammerer's English Tour of 1923, and other correspondence (26, 1920-1923); e. Kammerer, reprints, part only (10 items); f. Kammerer, miscellaneous, part only (9 items); g. Kammerer, letters to Nature (13, 1919-1926); h. Kammerer, miscellaneous (10, 1920-1926).

33.Correspondence with R.C. Punnett, part only (14 items).

Section F

36.a. Letters to Erwin Baur (24, 1909-1922); b. Letters to L.A. Borradaile on Purpose in Biology (3, 1924); c. Correspondence with C.B. Davenport (12, 1904-1921); d. Correspondence with H. de Vries (7, 1902-1905); e. Letter to H. Demerec (1, 1926); f. Letters to Clifford Dobell (25, 1904-1925); g. Letters from Clifford Dobell to William and C. Beatrice Bateson (21, 1914-1929); h. Letter to the Secretary of the Sociological Society (1, 1924); j. Letters to Gregory Bateson (3, 1923-1935); k. Letters to R. Ruggles Gates (7, 1911-1920); l. Letters to Sidney Harmer, W. Heribert-Nilsson and J. Stanley Gardiner (5, 1887-1927); m. Correspondence with Vitaly Issajev (4, 1922-1924); n. Correspondence with C.A. Jorgensen (8, 1924-1925); o. Correspondence with Ray Lankester and G.P. Mudge (6, 1907-1908); p. Letters to McDougall, T.H. Morgan and A.H. Sturtevant (3 items); q. Letters to H. Nilsson-Ehle (18, 1909-1925); r. Letters to W. Osterfeld (21, 1906-1923); s. Correspondence with H.F. Osborne, Raymond Pearl, H.S. Pease, and Caroline Pellew (9, 1894-1927); t. Letters to May Rathbone and to C. Beatrice Bateson (5, 1894-1927); u. Letters to G.F. Shull (18, 1903-1925).

37.a-b. Mendel Papers, 1902-1909.

38. Biology and The League of Nations: Correspondence with Basil Matthews, 1918.

43.a. Nikital Vavilov (18, 1922-1926).

46. International Union of Biological Sciences (3 items).

48. Obituary Notices of William Bateson (2 items).

51. Begging letters (16, 1898-1904).

Section G

1.a. Letters from the Steppe, originals (1888-1889); b. Letters from the Steppe, typed copies of G.1.a..

2.a. International Union of Biological Sciences (30, 1919-1928); b. British Museum (6, 1908-1922); c. The Oxford Letter (10, 1920); e. Gradus Pea - Legal Cases (12, 1921-1922); f. Letters from William Bateson to A.J. Balfour, W. Laurence Balls, Ezra Brainerd, Lord Bryce, and Capt. Diver (26, 1905-1927); g. Correspondence with Hans Driesch, Mrs L. Doncaster, C.T. Druery, H. de Vries, Mrs Grant Duff, and J. Stanley Gardiner (19, 1902-1927); h. Correspondence with J.B.S. Haldane, Kew Gardens, Mrs Lock, C.E. McClung, and Sir David Prain (28, 1894-1927); j. Correspondence with Antonio Ribas, D.H. Scott, G.C. Moore-Smith, W. Southworth, S.A. Arondsen Stein, and W.B. Turrill (23, c. 1890-1929); k. Correspondence with Julian Huxley (18, 1920-1925); n. Genetical Society and S.E.B. (1924); q. Papers collected for a Mendel Biography (30, 1902-1911).

3.b. Letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Batson (66, 1900-1909); c. Letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson (1910-1925); d. Letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Batson from America (1902-1922, 1 missing); e. Transcripts of letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Batson (1900-1925); f. Letters from William Bateson to his sons, originals and transcripts; g. Family letters and school reports (1874-1895); William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson. originals and transcripts (1897-1899); miscellaneous transcripts (1878-1922); h. Correspondence with Frank Darwin (1890-1914); i .Correspondence with Adam Sedgwick (1890-1908); k. Transcripts of letters from William Bateson to Anna, Mary and Margaret Bateson; l. Fly sheets and documents regarding J.B. Burke's 'Origin of Life' (1906); m. The Linacre Professorship, Oxford (1890); n. The Volucella and Cineraria controversies (1892-1896); o. The Evolution Committee (1896-1908); p. Reviews of 'Materials for the study of variation' (1894); q. Letters regarding the publication of 'Materials'.

4.a. 'Art' correspondence with Binyon, Fry, Rosetti, etc.; b. Sales notices for 'Materials' and 'Mendel's Principles of Heredity - A Defence' (1896-1903); c. William Bateson's notes on local variation for volume II of 'Materials'.

5.a. William Bateson's lecture notes (1897-1907); b. W.F.R. Weldon - William Bateson's notes on his lectures (1904-1905); obituaries and correspondence between William Bateson and Shipley and Fowler; c. Correspondence with C.C. Hurst, F.G. Kenyon, A.G. Mayer (Brooklyn Institute), and Arthur Sutton; d. 'Mendel's Principles of Heredity' (1909-); reviews and letters; e. Scientific papers, addresses and notes; f. William Bateson's article 'Evolution and education' (1915), MS, proofs, etc.; g. Spiritualism: The 'Ear of Dionysius' Controversy (1917) - letters, papers and cuttings; correspondence with Mrs. E.M. Sidgwick (1890); h. Reviews: 'Heredity and Sex' (1910), The Darwin Centenary Book, etc; i. Correspondence with publishers regarding Collected Essays and Memoirs (1920-1924); j. Obituaries of William Bateson and letters to C. Beatrice Bateson from obituary writers; k. William Bateson's notes for Vol. I of 'Materials'; l. Encyclopaedia Britannica; m. The Homotyposis Controversy (1895-1903, some missing); n. 'Mendel's Principles of Heredity - A Defence' (1902), letters and cuttings; o. Mrs. Herringham's gift (1903-1926); p. The Quick Bequest (1903-1906); q. Correspondence with Muriel Wheldale/Onslow, H. Onslow, etc. (1903-1927); r. The Darbishire Controversy (1902-1904).

6.a. Francis Galton and eugenics (1904-1905 and 1923-1929); b. The Silliman Lecture ('The Problems of Genetics') - notes, reviews, etc. (1906-1913); c. Controversy with the Linnean Society regarding German periodicals (1920-1923); d. Correspondence with the Classical Scholars regarding the Greek and Roman races (1913-1914); e. Royal Society visit to Russia, letters and papers (1925),; f. Greek at Cambridge (1891-1906); g. Notes and letters regarding poultry and rabbits, etc. (1912-1917); h. A.F. Blakeslee and the Datura Controversy (1920-1921); i. Sir Henry Roscoe and the Loyal Address (1915); j. The Habsburg-Reprints, family trees, etc; k. Correspondence with Dr J. Hurry (1909) and D. Sharpe (1908-1909); l. The Chair of Biology at Oxford and Cambridge and other Cambridge papers (1901-1922); m. Correspondence with James Wilson, Royal College of Science for Ireland and Dublin (1912-1913); n. Correspondence with O.H. Latter (1905), and regarding the 'Index Kewensis' (1890); o. Membership of British and foreign societies and honours conferred on William Bateson; p. Correspondence regarding Vavilov's Book Account, etc; q. Yule and Willis - papers and reactions to papers (1922-1924); r. 'Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubt' and the Revolt against the Teaching of Evolution in the United States (1921-1922).

7.a. Correspondence regarding William Bateson's American visit (1921-1922); b. Science and education and the Cambridge Essays on Education (1916-1918); c. Letters of congratulation regarding the Darwin Medal (1904); d. Letters from R.C. Punnett to C. Beatrice Bateson (1926-1929), xerox copies; e. Early letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson, originals and xeroxes (1889-1896), with 2 xeroxed letters from C. Beatrice Bateson to William Bateson (1902); f. Miscellaneous documents regarding Kammerer and 'Alytes'; g. Xerox copies of old family documents, pedigrees, etc; h. Letters from Archibald E. Garrod (1902-1906); i. Royal Society of Medicine Debate on Heredity (1908); j. Correspondence regarding the meeting of the British Association, Australia (1914); k. 'Materials' - notes, drawings and references, etc.; l. Correspondence with Macmillan and Co. regarding the publication of 'Materials' (1890-1894); m. Science and International Relations, (1918); n. Miscellaneous papers; o. Miscellaneous letters, A to G; p. Miscellaneous letters, H to L; q. Miscellaneous letters, M to P; r. Miscellaneous letters, S to Z.

8.a. Correspondence with Lafayette Ltd., Photographers (1913 and 1926); b. Catalogue of William Bateson's Collections; c. William Bateson's lecture notes, (1912-1926); d. Correspondence, etc., regarding the Herbert Spencer Lecture (1912); e. Transcripts of letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson (1897-1899); f. Transcripts of miscellaneous letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson, (1902-1912); g. Transcripts of letters from William Bateson to C. Beatrice Bateson from America (1902-1922) and from Russia (1925).

9.a.1-7. Notebooks of William Bateson's visit to Central Asia (1886-1887); b.1. Notebook of a visit to Switzerland, undated; c.1. 'Copies of letters to Erwin Baur now in the Preuss Staats Bibliothek - Berlin' (1909-1914).

Section I

1-8. Photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Dr. Gregory Bateson and Mrs. Mary Kassarjian (nee Bateson), 1976-1987.

Access Conditions

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Finding Aids

A catalogue is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room   



Go to: Queen's University Bateson Archive (Click Here)

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Go to: Bateson's "Residue" (Click Here)

Go to: Bateson and Goldschmidt (Click Here)

Go to: Paper on Romanes' "Peculiarity" and Bateson's "Residue" (1999) (Click Here)

Go to: Paper on Romanes, Bateson & Darwin's "Weak Point" (2010) (Click Here)

Go to: Bateson Biography (Click Here)

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This page was established in April 2011 and last edited 28 Jan 2021 by Donald Forsdyke