"Wallace is one of the most important figures of nineteenth-century biology and in character among its most admirable." E. O. Wilson
"...there is no more admirable character in the history of science." Sir David Attenborough
"It is curious how we hit on the same ideas." Charles Darwin to Wallace, 1867
"What a fine philosophical mind your friend, Mr Wallace has, & he has acted in
relation to me, like a true man with a noble spirit." Darwin to Bates, 1860
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Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 - 1913) was one of the 19th century's most remarkable intellectuals. Not only did he jointly publish the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858, but he also made very many other significant contributions, not just to biology, but also to subjects as diverse as glaciology, land reform, anthropology, ethnography, epidemiology, and astrobiology. His pioneering work on evolutionary biogeography (the study of how plants and animals are distributed) led to him becoming recognised as that subject’s ‘father’. Beyond this, Wallace is regarded as the pre-eminent collector and field biologist of tropical regions of the 19th century, and his book The Malay Archipelago (which was Joseph Conrad’s favourite bedside reading) is one of the most celebrated travel writings of that century and has never been out of print. Add to the above that Wallace was deeply committed to and a vocal supporter of spiritualism, socialism, and the rights of the ordinary person, and it quickly becomes apparent that he was a man with an extraordinary breadth of interests who was actively engaged with many of the big questions and important issues of his day.
By the time of his death Wallace was probably the world’s most famous scientist, but since then his intellectual legacy has been overshadowed by Darwin’s, largely thanks to the “Darwin Industry” of recent decades. This ‘industry’ has led to a highly “Darwinocentric” view of the history of modern biology, and as a result many of the important contributions made by Darwin’s contemporaries, like Wallace, are currently underestimated and undervalued. The Wallace Memorial Fund's mission is to ensure that Wallace is given due credit for his many groundbreaking contributions to science. This is obviously not for his benefit (since he is dead!), but to ensure that the historical account is accurate.
This website is intended to be an island of accurate information in the sea of misinformation about Wallace. It contains information about Wallace's life and work, a unique archive of Wallace-related images, FAQ's debunking some of the many myths surrounding Wallace and Darwin, plus information about the A. R. Wallace Memorial Fund and its projects. Please explore the site by clicking on the links on the menu to the left.
"Poets and moralists, judging from our English trees and fruits, have thought that small fruits always grew on lofty trees, so that their fall should be harmless to man, while the large ones trailed on the ground. Two of the largest and heaviest fruits known, however, the Brazil-nut fruit (Bertholletia) and durion, grow on lofty forest trees, from which they fall as soon as they are ripe, and often wound or kill the native inhabitants. From this we may learn two things: first, not to draw general conclusions from a very partial view of nature, and secondly, that trees and fruits, no less than the varied productions of the animal kingdom, do not appear to be organized with exclusive reference to the use and convenience of man." (From Wallace's 1869 book The Malay Archipelago).
The content on this site was written by evolutionary biologist, entomologist and Wallace scholar Dr George Beccaloni (aka 'Wallace's Rottweiler'), except where noted. George is the Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project and is a co-executor of Wallace's Literary Estate. He was the Historical Consultant for the recent award-winning BBC series about Wallace, Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero and the co-author of the book Natural Selection and Beyond: The Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. All views expressed on the site are his own. Most of the images on this site are copyright of their creators and may not be reproduced in any form without permission. For more information about reproducing images please CLICK HERE. To email George CLICK HERE.
Common variations of Wallace's name:
Wallace; Alfred Wallace; A. R. Wallace; Alfred R. Wallace; Russel Wallace; Alfred Russell Wallace [sic]
Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum