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Etty was born in Down House, Downe in 1843. She was Darwin's third daughter and the eldest daughter to reach adulthood after the eldest Annie died aged 10, and second daughter Mary died before becoming a month old. She and her brother Frank helped their father with his work, and Etty helped edit The Descent of Man.
It was Etty who had several passages from Charles Darwin's biography of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin, The Life of Erasmus Darwin, removed and probably had a similar hand in editing to similar effect The Autobiography of Charles Darwin. She also edited her mother's private papers Emma Darwin: wife of Charles Darwin. A Century of Family Letters (1904). She also responded to the Lady Hope Story that her father had undergone a deathbed conversion by writing an article in The Christian in 1922 saying it "[had] no foundation whatever". She died in Burrows Hill, Gomshall, Surrey, aged 86.