Thursday 7 November 2013 marks the centenary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the 19th century’s greatest explorers and naturalists. This display celebrates Wallace’s long association with the Museum and its collections.
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a scientific and social thinker, early biogeographer and ecologist. Although now less famous than his contemporary and correspondent Charles Darwin, the self-taught Wallace arrived independently at a theory of the evolution of species by natural selection.
In 1858, Wallace published On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type, prompting Darwin to publish On the Origin of Species the following year. Darwin had been working on his theory for twenty years, and here was an outline of that same idea, written by a relative unknown.
A drawer of Ulysses butterflies (Papilio ulysses)
These are from the Museum’s extensive butterfly collection. Specimens marked with a red dot were collected by Wallace during his travels to Amboyna (1859) and Batchian (1858–59).