Of Asa Gray (1810-88), the American based botanist, Darwin wrote: 'no other person understands me so thoroughly as Asa Gray. If I ever doubt what I mean myself, I think I shall ask him.' Gray did much to promote Darwin’s Origin 'States-side'. He wrote favourable reviews, arranged for an American edition, fought against rival Louis Agassiz, and wrote books explaining the 'Darwin' phenomenon.
Asa Gray, Darwiniana. New York: D. Appleton, 1877. Leith Storage EO9G
As Darwin’s closest friend, Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) was probably the first person to hear of his natural selection theory, with Darwin’s famous aside: 'it's like confessing a murder.' Of Hooker, who became Director at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Darwin wrote that he was 'the one living soul from whom I have constantly received sympathy'. Here is Hooker's 'Flora Novae-Zelandiae' from the Erebus and Terror expedition (1839-43).
Joseph D. Hooker, 'Flora Novae-Zelandiae. Part I. Flowering Plants' in The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H. M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror in the Years 1839-43. London: Lovell Reeve, 1853. Special Collections QK 47 HS37
The German biologist Ernst Haeckel was an enthusiastic Darwinian (they met in 1866), who constructed a series of evolutionary trees, depicting the history of life from the simplest organism through to modern man. Darwin battled through the German’s concepts of 'phylogeny' and 'Monism', and remarked on Haeckel's drawing up the tables of descent: 'Your boldness sometimes makes me tremble.'
Ernst Haeckel, The Evolution of Man. Vol. I. London: C. Kegan Paul, 1879. Science QH 366 H3272
Joseph D. Hooker