SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL A.1 - A.207
A.1 -A.16 Autobiographical and bibliographical
A.17 -A.98 Diaries and jotters
A.99 -A.118 School and university
A.119-A.138 Personal correspondence and material
A.139-A.199 Family correspondence and material
A.200-A.207 Photographs and press-cuttings
SECTION B JOHN INNES HORTICULTURAL INSTITUTION (from 1960: JOHN INNES INSTITUTE) B.1 - B.98
B.1 -B.18 Darlington's career at John Innes, 1923-40
B.19-B.50 General administration and organisation, 1930-53
B.51-B.79 Later correspondence and papers, 1954-80
B.80-B.92 Minutes and reports
B.93-B.98 Lectures and summer courses
SECTION C OXFORD C.1-C.125
C.1 -C.11 Darlington's career at Oxford
C.12-C.82 Botany Department
Lectures and teaching
Botanic and Genetic Gardens
Nuneham Courtenay Arboretum
C.83 -C.109 Oxford reform
C.110-C.115 Magdalen College
C.116-C.121 Oxford colleges and societies
C.122-C.125 Historical miscellany
SECTION D RESEARCH D.1-D.206
List of topics
SECTION E PUBLICATIONS E.1-E.710
E.1 -E.653 Publications and drafts
E.654-E.675 Miscellaneous and unpublished material
E.676-E.710 Editorial correspondence and material
SECTION F LECTURES AND BROADCASTS F.1-F.120
F.1 -F.66 Lectures
SECTION G SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS G.1-G.110
SECTION H VISITS AND CONFERENCES H.1-H.187
SECTION J CORRESPONDENCE J.1-J.287
The material, which fully documents all aspects of Darlington's career, is presented in the order shown in the List of Contents; additional explanatory notes accompany many of the Sections, sub-sections and individual entries in the catalogue. The following paragraphs aim only to draw attention to matters of particular substance or interest.
The division into Section, though real enough, is no more than convenient, and introduces a sense of linear development particularly artificial in the case of Darlington who interwove past and present, friendships and controversy, research and personality into a deliberate dialectic throughout his career. Cross-references have been provided where possible to link topics or correspondents between Sections, but these are no more than pointers and it remains essential to view the collection as an entity.
Darlington never wrote, or at least never completed, an autobiography (see E.471 for a statement of his intention to do so). In another sense, his whole life could be seen as an autobiography, seen through his diaries and jotters, the many historical accounts - published and unpublished - of episodes in his career and of friends or enemies made and cherished, or in the more extended narratives compiled for the Royal Society and other organisations. To these must be added the innumerable comments and reflections added in manuscript and at various dates to virtually every document that passed through his hands - not excepting earlier stages of his own work and certainly not sparing letters and papers received from others. Viewed in this manner, few can have revealed themselves more fully, or more deliberately, for Darlington was among the most self-conscious of men, aware of himself as an actor in his own life, aware of the value of his work, and aware of the many interlocking factors and influences of nature and nurture, heredity and circumstance which constituted his person and his role.
Section A contains the greatest number of overtly autobiographical and personal material in the form of narratives, diaries and jotters. Darlington's own career is more fully documented in Sections B (John Innes) and C (Oxford) and there are relatively few honours, awards or records of public life, for Darlington was far removed from an establishment figure. On the other hand, the family correspondence is of some general interest as well as illuminating several aspects of Darlington's early career. The letters and cards exchanged with his parents 1920-49 (A.169-A.195) are revealing of the seriousness, even austerity, of the Darlington family ambience and the seemingly affectionate and easy relations between parents and son. Mrs. Darlington especially, who writes to both her sons as 'My dear old' Alfred or Cyril, has a spontaneous charm of expression as well as, when required, a forthrightness worthy of Cyril. Also in Section A are records of Darlington's extreme care for his own publications, their progress and incorporation in an ongoing bibliography, and his lasting resentment of any tampering with them (or, as he put it, 'censorship' or 'suppression').
Section B includes material relating to Darlington's own career at the John Innes Horticultural Institution, its uneasy constitution, the move to Bayfordbury, and the problems of the organisation of a research establishment high-lighted by Darlington's departure for Oxford. There are Annual Reports and Minutes - liberally annotated - going back to the earliest days of the Institution in 1910. Section C records Darlington's career at Oxford, both in its embattled aspects of 'Oxford Reform' (C.83-C.109) and its gentler features such as the building-up of the Botanic and Genetic Gardens, and the interest in Oxford history and topography.
Section D (Research) corresponds to Darlington's own description of the material and includes his own early notebooks and observations. A substantial portion (D.31-D.122) is devoted to history of science and scientists, notably William Bateson, and to N.I. Vavilov, Russian genetics and the Lysenko controversy. This is an obvious area of overlap with other Sections such as E (Publications) and J (Correspondence) made inevitable by Darlington's own ordering of his papers which has been respected. The 'background information' in this Section not only chronicles the development of Darlington's thinking but also provides a useful assemblage of contemporary ideas and publications on various topics.
The most substantial Section in the collection is E (Publications), which enforces respect as much for Darlington's painstaking search for fluency and elegance of expression as for his prolific output as researcher, polemicist and reviewer. The material includes scientific papers of all periods and technical range, as also the drafts and publishing history of two of the major books on evolution produced in his later years - The evolution of man and society, 1969, and The little universe of man, 1978. It is interesting to note Darlington's friendly relations with his long-term publishers, his conscientious setting and keeping of deadlines, and the attention to detail which can be seen to extend to the exact layout and colour-scheme for the dustjackets of his books. Darlington's writing methods were lavish of time and effort (his own and other people's), involving multiple drafts, mostly dated but written on confusing and diverse media such as old proofs or company reports, annotated in black, blue, red or green ink, pencil and ballpoint; these were fittingly described as a 'palimpsest' by his publisher (E.466), but they document significant changes in substance or emphasis as well as Darlington's sense of style. There is a remarkable number of papers and writings additional to the official bibliography, and some unpublished material; these are listed in the Introduction to Section E.
Section F (Lectures and broadcasts) covers a wide span of Darlington's career, including his major lectures (the Conway, Herbert Spencer, Woodhull and Gregynog Lectures) and many shorter talks. The broadcasts, often on such controversial topics as evolution, heredity, Russian genetics and the relations between politics and science, regularly elicited press comment and correspondence.
Section G (Societies and organisations) is not extensive, partly because of Darlington's abrasive individualism and impatience with officialdom. There is, however, a full account of the journal Heredity founded and owned by Darlington and R.A. Fisher, and its connection with and eventual transfer to the Genetical Society (G.19-G.65) and the immense effort Darlington invested in his responsibilities as editor and reviewer.
Section H (Visits and conferences) extends widely in time (1927-81) and space, including especially the formative early visits to Persia, America and Japan, the Klampenborg meeting in 1938 and various International Genetics Conferences in which Russian colleagues were involved, or forbidden to be involved. There are also records of the International Chromosome Conferences which Darlington considered as one of his most important tasks at Oxford. The first three of these were held in Oxford in 1964, 1967 and 1970, as was the last which Darlington attended in 1980.
Section J (Correspondence) contains some extended exchanges with colleagues over a period of time (e.g. J.B.S. Haldane, J.S. Huxley, E.K. Janaki-Ammal, P.C.Koller, H.J. Muller). Most, however, are relatively brief, but embellished with notes and comments often of scientific, historical or personal interest. These may be co-terminous with receipt of the letter or document, or added later when Darlington went through many of his papers with autobiographical or archival purposes in mind.