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The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 - 1913) was one of the world's most important scientists. His seminal contributions to biology rival those of his friend and colleague Charles Darwin, though he is far less well known. Together Wallace and Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection in 1858, and their prolific subsequent work laid the foundations of modern evolutionary biology, and much more besides.

Wallace made enduring scholarly contributions to subjects as diverse as glaciology, land reform, anthropology, ethnography, epidemiology, and astrobiology. His pioneering work on evolutionary biogeography (the science that seeks to explain the geographical distribution of organisms) 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. Wallace 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. He was anti-slavery, anti-eugenics, anti-vivisection, anti-militarism, anti-Imperialism, a conservationist and an advocate of woman's rights. He strongly believed in the rights of the ordinary person, was a socialist, an anti-vaccinationist (for rational reasons), and a believer in naturalistic, evolutionary spiritualism. He did not come from a privileged background and was largely self-taught. For a brief biography see http://www.wallaceletters.info/content/mini-biography

The Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP) was founded by George Beccaloni in 2010. Its aims are to locate, digitise, catalogue, transcribe, interpret and publish Wallace's surviving correspondence and other manuscripts. About 5,700 letters to and from Wallace are currently known to survive, and they are held by c. 240 institutions and individuals worldwide. Wallace's letters are a biographical treasure trove, which provides a far better picture of the 'real' Wallace than his heavily edited and censored published writings (e.g. his autobiography My Life (1905) and his letters in Marchant's Letters and Reminiscences (1916)). For example, Wallace never even mentions his wife's name (Annie) in any of his published writings, including his autobiography. The letters are also key to gaining a deeper understanding of his scientific and other work: how and why his ideas arose, and how they evolved over time.

The WCP is unlocking this valuable resource by gathering all the letters together for the first time, and transcribing them so that they can be more easily read and information within them discovered using electronic searches for words and phrases. The vast amount of unpublished information which is coming to light will surely form the basis for numerous articles, scholarly papers, PhD theses and perhaps the first definitive biography.

Epsilon is being used by the WCP's as its online archive of Wallace's correspondence. It replaces our previous archive, Wallace Letters Online, which was last updated in 2015. The process of editing the transcripts and associated metadata is a work in progress which will take many years to complete. Our project’s policy is, however, to make the information we have available to users at the earliest possible opportunity, even if it is incomplete and/or imperfect. For a guide to our data, including the protocols we use for metadata and transcriptions, please see http://www.wallaceletters.info/content/epsilon

Text Online
From:
[M. F.] [Egerton]
To:
[John] [Tyndall]
Date:
1870-1893
Source of text:
Royal Institution of Great Britain: RI MS JT/1/E/99p
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
John Hampden
To:
William Benjamin? Carpenter?
Date:
1870-1891
Source of text:
Wallace, A. R. (1871). In: Reply to Mr Hampden's Charges Against Mr Wallace . London: J. J. Tiver. [p. 1]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
John Hampden
To:
Annie Wallace (née Mitten)
Date:
1870-1891
Source of text:
  • Wallace, A. R. (1871). In: Reply to Mr Hampden's Charges Against Mr Wallace. London: J. J. Tiver. [p. 7]
  • Wallace, A. R. (1908). In: My Life: a Record of Events and Opinions. Vol. 1. London: Chapman & Hall. [pp. 368-369]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
George Wheatley Bennett
Date:
1870-1871
Source of text:
  • Anon. (1871). In: Report on Spiritualism, of the Committee of the London Dialectical Society. London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer. [p. 82]
  • Anon. (1871). In: Report on Spiritualism, of the Committee of the London Dialectical Society. London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer. [pp. 83-90]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
Joseph William Dunning
Date:
1870-1872
Source of text:
Hope Entomological Library, Oxford University Museum of Natural History: ARW 232
Summary:

Returning a proof. Tarphius gibbulus not Madeiran. Needs alteration, hope you will see it properly done. On Madeiran Tarphius not inhabiting trees, he is wrong. I now use Wollaston's own words from Insecta Maderiensia.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
[unknown person]
Date:
c. 1870
Source of text:
London Library, The: LL Archives, Autograph Letters, v2, p. 113
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
John? Hampden?
Date:
[1870]
Source of text:
Wallace, A. R. (1871). In: Reply to Mr Hampden's Charges Against Mr Wallace . London: J. J. Tiver. [p. 1]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
Richard Norris
Date:
1 January 1870
Source of text:
Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, University of Birmingham: US41/7/12/19
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
John Henry Walsh
To:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Date:
[1870]
Source of text:
Wallace, A. R. (1871). In: Reply to Mr Hampden's Charges Against Mr Wallace . London: J. J. Tiver. [p. 2]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
John Lawrence LeConte
Date:
2 January 1870
Source of text:
  • American Philosophical Society: LeConte Papers
  • American Philosophical Society: LeConte Papers
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Joseph Barnard Davis
To:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Date:
9 January 1870
Source of text:
British Library, The: BL Add. 46435 f. 154
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
George Robert Crotch
To:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Date:
15 [January] [1870]
Source of text:
British Library, The: BL Add. 46435 ff. 205-206
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
John Hampden
Date:
15 January 1870
Source of text:
Hampden, J. (1870). In: Is Water Level or Convex After All? The Bedford Canal Swindle Detected & Exposed, Etc . Swindon: Alfred Bull. [p. 14]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
Alfred Newton
Date:
18 January 1870
Source of text:
Wollaston, A. F. R. (1921). In: Life of Alfred Newton, Professor of Comparative Anatomy Cambridge University, 1866-1907 . London: John Murray. [pp. 296-297]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
John Lawrence LeConte
To:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Date:
19 January 1870
Source of text:
British Library, The: BL Add. 46435 ff. 155-156
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
William Mitten
To:
Richard Spruce
Date:
21 January 1870
Source of text:
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: RSP/2/3
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
John Hampden
Date:
21 January 1870
Source of text:
Hampden, J. (1870). In: Is Water Level or Convex After All? The Bedford Canal Swindle Detected & Exposed, Etc . Swindon: Alfred Bull. [pp. 14-15]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
Charles Robert Darwin
Date:
22 January 1870
Source of text:
  • Cambridge University Library: DAR 106: B90-91
  • British Library, The: BL Add. 46434 f. 197
  • Wallace Family Collection (private collection)
  • Marchant, J. (Ed.). (1916). In: Alfred Russel Wallace; Letters and Reminiscences. Vol. 1. London & New York: Cassell & Co. [pp. 249-250]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Alfred Russel Wallace
To:
John Hampden
Date:
25 January [1870]
Source of text:
Hampden, J. (1870). In: Is Water Level or Convex After All? The Bedford Canal Swindle Detected & Exposed, Etc . Swindon: Alfred Bull. [p. 15]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
Text Online
From:
Charles Robert Darwin
To:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Date:
26 January [1870]
Source of text:
  • British Library, The: BL Add. 46434 ff. 198-199
  • Marchant, J. (Ed.). (1916). In: Alfred Russel Wallace; Letters and Reminiscences. Vol. 1. London & New York: Cassell & Co. [pp. 250-251]
Summary:

No summary available.

Contributor:
Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project