Alfred Russel Wallace

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wallace, Alfred Russel


Born Jan. 8, 1823, in Usk, Monmouthshire; died Nov. 7, 1913, in Broadstone, Dorset. English naturalist who developed the theory of natural selection simultaneously with C. Darwin.

From 1848 to 1852, Wallace explored the Amazon River and the Rio Negro (to 1850 in the company of the naturalist H. W. Bates), and from 1854 to 1862, he explored the Malay Archipelago. On the Malay expedition, Wallace collected zoological, botanical, and geological specimens (more than 125,000 items), carried out craniological research on the peoples of the archipelago, and compiled dictionaries of 75 dialects. Wallace was one of the founders of zoogeography; he demonstrated that a boundary (Wallace’s Line) runs along the Malay Archipelago dividing the zoogeography of the Celebes Islands (Sulawesi) from the rest of the islands of the archipelago. Wallace thought (1855) that the appearance of each species is geographically and chronologically linked to the closest preceding species. In 1858 he sent Darwin the manuscript of his article “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type.” In the article he proposed ideas that coincided with the theory of natural selection that Darwin had been working on for more than 20 years. Darwin presented Wallace’s article with a short exposition of his own theory to the Linnaean Society in London on July 1, 1858, and the society published the two works in its proceedings. Wallace coined the term “Darwinism.”

Wallace spoke out staunchly against Lamarckism; however, he did not understand the importance of mutation theory and Mendelism for the basis of Darwinism. Wallace maintained idealist views on the origin of psychic abilities in man and also believed in spiritualism.


The Malay Archipelago, vols. 1–2. London, 1869.
Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. London, 1870.
The Geographical Distribution of Animals, vols. 1–2. London, 1876.
Island Life. London, 1880.
My Life, new ed. London, 1908.
Letters and Reminiscences, vols. 1–2. London, 1916.
In Russian translation:
Estestvennvi podbor. St. Petersburg, 1878. (Translated from English.)
Darvinizm, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1911.
Tropicheskaia priroda, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1975.


George, W. B. Biologist Philosopher: Alfred Russel Wallace. London [1964].
Williams-Ellis, A. Darwin’s Moon: Alfred Russel Wallace. London, 1966.
McKinney, H. L. Wallace and Natural Selection. New Haven, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Delirium of Alfred Russell Wallace, 1994/2003, an installation at the Aldrich inspired by Wallace's 1850 malaria-induced revelations in the Malay Archipelago, which Darwin apparently partially cribbed for The Origin of Species, brings together several of Dion's favorite binaries--the individual and the collective; art and science; imperialism and naturalism; nature and culture--in order to show how they are, in fact, inextricably linked.
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Alfred Russell Wallace worked with Darwin on the theory of evolution in the nineteenth century.
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In Wales we owe Alfred Russell Wallace a huge debt, far greater than any historical interest in Bishop Usher, ex-of Llandaf Cathedral, who made the calculation that the world was founded in 4004 BC, based on the account of all the "begetting" of all the generations listed in the Old Testament.
Ian Hefin plays Alfred Russell Wallace in Theatr Na n''Og 's Welsh language one-man drama Gofynnwch i Wallace (Ask Wallace), written and directed by Geinor Styles.
William Grove, one of the four great Welsh scientists alongside Alfred Russell Wallace, evolutionary biologist colleague of Charles Darwin, Robert Recorde, the inventor of the equals sign, and David Hughes, the inventor of the microphone, is the man who brought the fuel cell to the world.
The other great naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace would also enjoy the chat, I feel.
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He's the man who organised Neath's commemoration last year of the achievements of Alfred Russell Wallace. He has a consuming interest in everything to do with Welsh history and political philosophy, and holds some highly controversial views on these subjects, which we both enjoyed debating.
But he comes from Neath, and feels that in this year's celebrations of The Origin of Species, the contribution of Neath's most famous citizen - Alfred Russell Wallace - has been neglected.