Evolutionary Biology Alfred Russel Wallace
by
Martin Fichman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199941728-0026

Introduction

Alfred Russel Wallace (b. 1823–d. 1913) was one of the most brilliant theoretical and field biologists of the 19th century. He was a meticulous field observer, a prolific generator of ideas on a broad spectrum of issues ranging from evolutionary biology to social and political concerns, and a theoretician whose work laid some of the main foundations for the scientific study of biogeography and evolution. Wallace undertook two tropical journeys that were to transform his life and the emerging science of evolutionary biology: a four-year exploration of the Amazon basin of South America (1848–1852) and an eight-year exploration of the Malay Archipelago (1854–1862), including the islands of Java, Borneo, Celebes, New Guinea, and Bali. Wallace later generalized his findings from Southeast Asia to elaborate a global paradigm for identifying the earth’s fundamental biogeographical regions in his magisterial Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876). It was, of course, Wallace’s elucidation of the mechanism of evolution—in his 1858 “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type”—that constitutes his greatest scientific legacy from his Malay travels. A copy of Wallace’s essay, along with extracts from an unpublished manuscript on natural selection written by Darwin in 1844, were presented together at the historic meeting of the Linnean Society (London) on 1 July 1858. This meeting—a year prior to the publication of Darwin’s On the origin of species (1859)—ensured that both Wallace and Darwin received recognition and joint priority for their momentous discovery of natural selection. Wallace spent the remainder of his long life in elucidating the implications of evolutionary theory for biogeography, sexual selection, the phenomenon of organic mimicry taxonomy, physical geography and geology, and anthropology. Although he remained an ardent selectionist in his overall analysis of evolutionary processes, Wallace considered natural selection inadequate to account completely for the origin and development of certain human characteristics, notably, consciousness and the moral sense. He insisted that certain aspects of theism and of political and social ideologies, including socialism, spiritualism, and anti-vaccinationism, were not merely compatible with the evolutionary process but essential for comprehending the full significance of human evolution. The issues Wallace confronted continue to resonate in contemporary debates on the scope, mechanism, and, ultimately, significance of evolution in both scientific and cultural domains. In the past two decades there has been a resurgence of interest in Wallace, and this article provides a scholarly guide through the thicket of materials now emerging on his life and achievements.

General Overviews

Because Wallace wrote on an extremely broad range of topics, any overview tends to deal with one or several themes only. Smith and Beccaloni 2008 provides the best contemporary overview, with individual contributions focusing on specific Wallace interests. Dick 2008 is useful for integrating astronomy and biology within Wallace’s broader evolutionary cosmology. O’Hara 1991 is good on Wallace’s relation to 19th-century (and modern) debates on the most appropriate models for organizing the diversity of organic forms. Tinkler 2008 fits Wallace’s interest in glaciation within his broader naturalist framework. Bowler 2009 argues for more emphasis on the role that non-Darwinian models have played in the actual development of evolutionism and thus welcomes Wallace studies. Desmond 2001 is useful for understanding Wallace’s place in the Victorian debates on the changing role of amateurs and professionals in science.

  • Bowler, Peter J. 2009. Do we need a non-Darwinian industry? Notes & Records of the Royal Society 63.4: 393–398.

    DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2009.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that that the heavy emphasis on Darwin by historians has distorted/minimized the role that non-Darwinian models of evolution played in the actual development of evolutionism. The author suggests rightly that scholarly and public understanding of the wider implications of evolutionism—both cultural and scientific—can only benefit by a vigorous “non-Darwinian” (but certainly not anti-Darwinian!) industry.

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  • Desmond, Adrian. 2001. Redefining the X Axis: “Professionals,” “amateurs” and the making of mid-Victorian biology; A progress report. Journal of the History of Biology 34.1: 3–50.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1010346828270Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lively analysis of current revisionist accounts of the notions of “professional” and “amateur” as they relate to professional and political goals in mid-Victorian biology. Contends that the professional ideology of the X-Club, a private scientific dining club of Victorian London, was different, in significant ways, from the professional norms of contemporary scientists. Useful for situating Wallace within the context of these debates. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Dick, Steven J. 2008. The universe and Alfred Russel Wallace. In Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 320–340. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The author demonstrates that for Wallace, both biology and astronomy were part of the same anthropocentric and teleological world view. Useful as one of the very few recent scholarly assessments of Wallace’s late astronomical works (1903, 1907, and 1910).

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  • O’Hara, Robert J. 1991. Representations of the natural system in the nineteenth century. Biology and Philosophy 6.2: 255–274.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF02426840Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Situates Wallace’s representation of a natural system of birds (1856) within the context of the diversity of representations drawn and interpreted by ornithologists in the 19th century. Argues that many contemporary controversies in systematics have their roots in the unresolved conceptual problems that surrounded late-19th-century debates on the abstract notion of order in living diversity. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Smith, Charles H., and George Beccaloni, eds. 2008. Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    An indispensable collection of essays, most of them specifically commissioned, which covers a full range of Wallace’s interests, including biogeography, protective coloration of animals, conservation, speciation, eugenics, spiritualism, socialism, and anti-vaccinationism. Critically synthesizes the latest scholarship in Wallace studies.

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  • Tinkler, Keith. 2008. Wallace and the Great Ice Age. In Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 186–200. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Explains why Wallace turned to a study of glaciation in his later career, a subject he had largely ignored prior to the 1858 Linnean papers. Shows that Wallace “mastered the glacial literature to pursue his naturalist’s agenda” (p. 200), i.e., his lifelong efforts to explain organic change. Fine essay in a relatively untouched area of Wallace scholarship.

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Anthologies

Wallace anthologies, used in conjunction with the comprehensive online sources listed in Bibliographies, are an excellent introduction to the diversity of his thought and achievements. Smith 1991 and Berry 2002 are good general anthologies. Camerini 2002 targets the general reader and provides a fine array of Wallace’s travel writings and his writings as a field biologist. Knapp, et al. 2002 discusses the importance of Wallace’s collection of Amazonian palm specimens, long presumed lost but recently located at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. Smith 2004 reprints some shorter Wallace writings on evolution along with Natural selection and tropical nature (1891) and Darwinism (1889).

  • Berry, Andrew, ed. 2002. Infinite tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace anthology. London and New York: Verso.

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    An annotated anthology of Wallace writings that reveals the wide-ranging interests of Wallace’s life and career. The selections are arranged thematically into five sections: science, humans, spiritualism and metaphysics, travel, and social issues. This anthology is useful primarily for undergraduates and the general reader.

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  • Camerini, Jane R., ed. 2002. The Alfred Russel Wallace reader: A selection of writings from the field. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    A collection of Wallace writings arranged chronologically in four sections: Wales, the Amazon, the Malay Archipelago, and the period 1862–1913. Aimed primarily at the general reader rather than the historian of science, the book focuses on Wallace’s work as a field biologist and travel writer. Each section begins with a helpful biographical summary.

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  • Knapp, Sandra, Lynn Sanders, and William Baker. 2002. Alfred Russel Wallace and the palms of the Amazon. Palms 46.3: 109–119.

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    The authors show that not all collected specimens, as historians supposed, were lost when Wallace’s ship caught fire on his return to England in 1852; rather, he had successfully dispatched a few specimens of Amazonian palms to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where they have lain largely unnoticed since then. The article claims that these palms are exciting new clues to Wallace’s early development as a field naturalist.

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  • Smith, Charles H., ed. 1991. Alfred Russel Wallace: An anthology of his shorter writings. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A pioneering anthology of selected Wallace publications in the periodical literature. Divided into eight thematic sections; each section has an introduction, with each selection preceded by a brief contextual note. Concludes with a bibliography of Wallace’s published writings (including monographs) that was the most comprehensive available at the time (1991).

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  • Smith, Charles H., ed. 2004. Alfred Russel Wallace: Writings on evolution, 1843–1912. 3 vols. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Continuum.

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    Volume one is a useful collection of many of Wallace’s shorter writings on evolution that are not to be found in the 1891 collection Natural selection and tropical nature. The latter is reprinted as volume three of the present set and Wallace’s book Darwinism has been reprinted as volume two.

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Biographies

Wallace biographies prior to 2000 relied primarily on the documents and biographical information available from Wallace 1969 and Marchant 1975, with utilization of some archival materials. Wallace 1969 is still indispensable for Wallace’s public recollections. but letters and other documents cited there must now be checked against the online sources listed in Bibliographies. This is also the case with Marchant 1975, which for many decades was used almost as a primary source but has now been superseded by Wallace Letters Online (WLO), cited under Bibliographies. The first decade of the current century has witnessed the publication of a spate of new biographies that make fuller use of archival and online sources. The most reliable and scholarly of these are Fichman 2004, Raby 2001, and Slotten 2004. Focher 2006 is a fine example of a non-English biography of Wallace. Browne 2010 (written by a prominent Darwin biographer) is a useful analysis of the changing shape of Darwin biographies and is suggestive for researchers on Wallace’s life and career. Rookmaaker and van Wyhe 2012 is notable for reliably filling in certain details of Wallace’s Malay travels and inquiries.

  • Browne, Janet. 2010. Making Darwin: Biography and the changing representations of Charles Darwin. In Special issue: Biography and history: inextricably interwoven. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 40.3: 347–373.

    DOI: 10.1162/jinh.2010.40.3.347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author, a prominent Darwin biographer herself, discusses the changing shape of Darwin biographies through the 20th century up to 2010. Useful insights for Wallace scholars. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Fichman, Martin. 2004. An Elusive Victorian: The evolution of Alfred Russel Wallace. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    Innovative analytical study of Wallace’s life and career. Stresses the mutuality of his scientific and sociopolitical ideas by situating his work in the cultural context of Victorian intellectual activity. Demonstrates the coherency of Wallace’s evolutionary cosmology: a vision of humanity’s place in nature and society that would ensure the dignity of all individuals.

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  • Focher, Federico. 2006. L’Uomo che gettò nel panico Darwin: La vita e le scoperte di Alfred Russel Wallace. Torino, Italy: Bollati Boringhieri.

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    Useful as the most recent scholarly biography of Wallace in Italian. Emphasizes, in addition to Wallace’s scientific achievements, his sociopolitical and spiritualist beliefs.

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  • Marchant, James. 1975. Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and reminiscences. New York: Arno.

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    Despite being quite incomplete and often heavily edited with important omissions of text, Marchant’s collection of Wallace correspondence (originally published in 1916) was until recently the major print primary source for scholars. A magnificent publication, although since superseded by the Wallace Letters Online (WLO), cited under Bibliographies and other online sources for the letters. Although not technically a biography, this book is replete with biographical data.

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  • Raby, Peter. 2001. Alfred Russel Wallace: A life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    A balanced biography that draws extensively on Wallace’s correspondence. The well-written introduction to Wallace’s life and career is suitable for the general reader.

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  • Rookmaaker, Kees, and John van Wyhe. 2012. In Wallace’s shadow: The forgotten assistant of Wallace, Charles Allen (1839–1892). Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 85.2: 17–54.

    DOI: 10.1353/ras.2012.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The fullest account of the contributions made by the young Englishman whom Wallace took with him to the Malay Archipelago in 1854. Wallace trained Charles Martin Allen to collect and prepare natural history specimens of birds and insects during Wallace’s eight-year travels in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula, Sarawak, the Moluccas, and New Guinea. Available online by subscription.

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  • Slotten, Ross A. 2004. The heretic in Darwin’s court: The life of Alfred Russel Wallace. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    A comprehensive and well-informed account of the main details of Wallace’s life and career. Directed to a general audience, the book is also useful for undergraduates. Of lesser use to scholars, however, because of the author’s neglect of contemporary Victorian contextualist historiography of science.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1969. My Life: A record of events and opinions. 2 vols. Westmead, UK: Gregg International.

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    Originally published in 1905, Wallace’s autobiography still remains a unique account of his views on all things. Extracts of letters should now be checked against the databases of Wallace Letters Online (WLO) and Wallace Online, both cited under Bibliographies.

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Bibliographies

Until very recently many of Wallace’s writings—including his large correspondence—were hard to locate or access. This situation has been rectified with the appearance of four superb online sites that make Wallace’s literary output easily available to scholars and interested members of the general public. One can expect that the resurgence in attention toward, and publications about, Wallace’s extraordinary life and achievements will only be amplified. The Alfred Russel Wallace Page, based at Western Kentucky University, was the first online tool and remains invaluable as an entry point for anyone interested in Wallace. Wallace Online, based at the National University of Singapore, provides the first complete edition (of any kind) of Wallace’s published writings. The Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP), based at the Natural History Museum, London—in conjunction with its companion digital database Wallace Letters Online (WLO)—will make available all the surviving correspondence of Wallace, including the complete Wallace-Darwin correspondence in full, for the first time. Smith and Derr 2013 is a newly transcribed and annotated edition of Wallace’s journal of his lecture tour in North America in 1886 and 1887 and provides a unique document of Wallace’s impressions of the United States and Canada.

  • Smith, Charles H., and Megan Derr, eds. 2013. Alfred Russel Wallace’s 1886–1887 travel diary; The North American lecture tour. Manchester, UK: Siri Scientific.

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    Newly transcribed and annotated edition of Wallace’s journal of his ten-month transcontinental lecture tour to North America in 1886–1887. As the world’s leading evolutionist, Wallace recorded his observations on the natural history of North America and his impressions of the people he met, including many of the most famous Americans from the period. His journal is a valuable addition to his works now available in print.

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  • The Alfred Russel Wallace Page.

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    Indispensable website based at Western Kentucky University and devoted to Wallace’s life and work. Includes links to full text versions of most of his published writings, as well as an extensive personal name and general subject index to them. Contains a comprehensive, continuously updated bibliography of contemporary and modern secondary sources, with electronic links to many of them. An excellent starting point for students and scholars doing research on Wallace.

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  • Wallace Correspondence Project (WCP).

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    Aims to locate, digitize, transcribe, and interpret all surviving letters to and from Wallace. The WCP makes scans of Wallace’s letters available to users as quickly as possible via the project’s online database WLO. Over time, the scanned letters will be transcribed so that the project’s digital database will become increasingly richer and more complete. Finally, Wallace scholars have access to a research tool analogous to the Darwin Correspondence Project.

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  • Wallace Letters Online (WLO).

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    A major resource for Wallace scholars, this open-access database of the Wallace Correspondence Project contains, to date, nearly 4,000 letters sent to and from Wallace, or about 95 percent of his known surviving correspondence. WLO includes the complete surviving Darwin-Wallace correspondence in full for the first time. The database is fully searchable and includes transcripts as well as scans. Online materials will also include other important documents, such as Wallace’s notebooks.

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  • Wallace Online.

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    Wallace Online is the first complete edition of Wallace’s published writings, including books, book chapters, and articles. Includes also the first union catalogue of Wallace’s handwritten manuscripts and private papers ever published, currently containing nearly 1,700 records from seven institutions. This major database also provides links to many works by other authors that are known to have been important for Wallace. Together with WLO, this database provides a fully searchable research tool for scholars and students.

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Major Works

Wallace wrote numerous works during his lifetime on an extremely wide variety of subjects. None of his books have yet appeared in appropriate modern critical editions. There are some excellent and fully reliable websites that now make available online most of Wallace’s published and unpublished writings in easily accessible format (see Bibliographies). Wallace 1869 is a brilliant piece of Victorian scientific travel writing. Wallace 1871 contains two essays that make explicit Wallace’s changing views on the origin of certain human moral and intellectual characteristics. Wallace 1876 and Wallace 2013 have firmly established Wallace’s position as the preeminent Victorian zoogeographer. Wallace 1905 is a celebrated exposition of the theory of natural selection that despite its title makes clear Wallace’s differences from Darwin on certain applications of that theory. Wallace 1898 is Wallace at his idiosyncratic best in assessing the highs and lows of Victorian cultural transformations. Finally, Wallace 1911 is a mature statement of Wallace’s evolutionary worldview, notable for its explicit teleological framework.

  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1869. The Malay Archipelago: The land of the orang-utan and the bird of paradise; A narrative of travel with studies of man and nature. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

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    One of the greatest pieces of Victorian scientific travel writing, Malay Archipelago went through ten editions and was immediately translated into German, French, and Danish, and exerted a major influence on a whole generation of tropical naturalists. Although Wallace provided extensive descriptions of the flora and fauna of those islands, it is significant that the concluding chapter (II, 436–465) of the book is entitled “The Races of Man in the Malay Archipelago.”

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1871. The Malay Archipelago: The land of the orang-utan and the bird of paradise; A narrative of travel with studies of man and nature. 2d ed. 2 vols. London and New York: Macmillan.

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    A collection of ten essays, the last two (pp. 303–371) of which make explicit Wallace’s commitment to an evolutionary teleology and his changing views on the origin of certain human characteristics

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1876. The geographical distribution of animals; With a study of the relations of living and extinct faunas as elucidating the past changes of the earth’s surface. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

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    Wallace’s technical magnum opus. It was recognized immediately after publication as a landmark in the emerging science of zoogeography, as well as a strategic contribution to evolutionary theory. Wallace intended this treatise, as he did nearly all his writings, for the nonscientific reader as well as the trained scientist. As Wallace put it, his target audience includes anyone capable of understanding Principles of Geology (1830–1833) by Charles Lyell (b. 1797–d. 1875) or Darwin’s Origin.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1898. The wonderful century: Its successes and its failures. New York: Dodd, Mead.

    DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.39656Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In The Wonderful Century, Wallace, now openly identifying himself with radical political movements and ideologies, dramatically deconstructing many of the icons of late-19th-century materialism. Although Wallace’s scientific prestige made him a force to be reckoned with even in sociopolitical matters, The Wonderful Century did little to endear him to those of his contemporaries who believed that science and technology were fueling a chariot of unalloyed “progress.”

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 2013. Island life, or, the phenomena and causes of insular faunas and floras, including a revision and attempted solution of the problem of geological climates. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226045177.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The publication in 1880 of Island life confirmed Wallace’s position as the leading Victorian zoogeographer. A brilliant synthesis of geological and climatic data, modes of migration and dispersal of organisms, and evolutionary adaptation and divergence, Island life is a framework that continues to guide biogeographical studies. Darwin considered it the best book Wallace published and Joseph Dalton Hooker (b. 1817–d. 1911) thought it an immense advance over any previous work in zoogeography.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1905. Darwinism: An exposition of the theory of natural selection with some of its applications. 3d rev. ed. London and New York: Macmillan.

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    Consists mainly of presentations of the topics Wallace had lectured on in his North American tour (1886–1887). The title is ironic in that the last chapter spelled out in detail Wallace’s conviction that natural selection did not account for several important aspects of human evolution. Wallace’s consistent public deference to Darwin may have been a factor in encouraging many historians to overemphasize Darwin’s achievements with respect to those of Wallace in the development of evolutionary theory.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1911. The world of life: A manifestation of creative power, directive mind and ultimate purpose. 5th ed. London: Chapman & Hall.

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    Presents an interpretation of biological phenomena, including the “nature and causes of Life itself” (p. vi), which renders explicit the theistic and teleological framework that had come to permeate Wallace’s evolutionary synthesis.

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Natural Selection

The joint discovery by Wallace and Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection, announced at the Linnean Society in 1858 (Darwin and Wallace 1858, cited under Joint Discovery), is a justly celebrated and analyzed episode in the history of science. Combining Lyell’s descriptions of the gradual fluctuations of land and sea, climate, food supply, and predators with his own field experiences of organic variation in nature and his interpretation of the views of Thomas Malthus (b. 1766–d. 1834) on population, Wallace realized that—given sufficient time—new species would evolve from preexisting ones in response to altered environmental conditions. He was thus able to explain, at the start of his career, the exquisite and often complex adaptations of animals (and plants) not as the product of divine design but as the outcome of evolutionary change. The two following subsections focus on the literature analyzing the technical aspects of Wallace’s views on natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. For the nonmaterial factors that Wallace later adduced as evolutionary forces auxiliary to natural selection, see the entries cited under Human Evolution and Spiritualism.

Joint Discovery

Although Wallace’s and Darwin’s paths to the discovery of natural selection displayed some common features, there is little doubt that the two naturalists arrived independently at strikingly similar hypotheses on the origin of species. Kutschera 2003, Bulmer 2005, and Gayon 2009 examine the major differences between the two formulations of natural selection. Beccaloni 2008 discusses Wallace’s annotated copy of the 1858 papers. England 1997 discusses the puzzling (and rather muted) initial response by many naturalists to those papers. Wallace 1855 is the first public statement of Wallace’s particular concept of evolution. Known as the 1855 Sarawak essay, it stands as a remarkable document, in which Wallace constructed a powerful argument in support of the thesis that new species evolve (though he did not yet employ that word) from closely related, preexisting species, but suggests no mechanism for such change. It would shortly bring Wallace to the epicenter of the mid-19th-century evolutionary debates. Darwin and Wallace 1858 is Wallace’s famed contribution to the joint announcement of the discovery of natural selection at the Linnean Society and dramatically completes the brief suggestions made in the Sarawak paper.

Applications

Caro, et al. 2008a and Caro, et al. 2008b demonstrate the historical and contemporary significance of Wallace’s analysis of animal and plant coloration in evolutionary biology. Mallet 2004 and Kunte 2008 demonstrate the influence of Wallace’s views on sexual dimorphism in Papilio butterflies of the Malayan region in the development of theories about natural selection and the biological species concept. Forsdyke 1999 examines the controversy between Wallace and George J. Romanes (b. 1848–d. 1894) over the difficult question of the cause of hybrid sterility. Ollerton 2005 summarizes recent empirical evidence in support of Wallace’s mechanism for speciation via hybrid sterility, now known as the Wallace Effect (or reinforcement).

  • Caro, Tim, Sami Merilaita, and Martin Stevens. 2008a. The colours of animals: From Wallace to the present day. I. Cryptic coloration. In Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 125–143. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Investigation of Wallace’s enduring interest in animal and plant coloration, with a focus on protective coloration. Situates Wallace’s work within the context of recent conceptual and developments in this field.

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  • Caro, Tim, Geoffrey Hill, Leena Lindström, and Michael Speed. 2008b. The colours of animals: From Wallace to the present day. II. Conspicuous coloration. In natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 144–165. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Fine analysis of Wallace’s ideas on organic coloration in the cases of conspicuous (warning) colors, mimicry (Batesian and Mullerian), and sexual dichromatism in birds. Credits Wallace with establishing coloration as a field of enormous biological significance and evolutionary import.

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  • Forsdyke, Donald R. 1999. The origin of species, revisited: A Victorian who anticipated modern developments in Darwin’s Theory. Queen’s Quarterly 106.1: 112–133.

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    A provocative account of the controversy between Wallace and George J. Romanes, one of the elder Darwin’s protégés, over the difficult question of the cause of hybrid sterility. Romanes’s alternative theory of the origin of species by means of physiological selection was vigorously attacked by Wallace. The author points to Romanes’s public reversal of his earlier support of spiritualism as one factor in this bitter dispute.

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  • Kunte, Krushnamegh. 2008. Mimetic butterflies support Wallace’s model of sexual dimorphism. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 275.1643: 1617–1624.

    DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0171Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Demonstrates that recent studies on Papilio butterflies, and certain species of birds and lizards, support Wallace’s view of sexual dimorphism as the result of naturally selected deviation in protective female coloration. Suggests that wider applicability of Wallace’s model for sexual dimorphism than has previously been thought is warranted.

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  • Mallet, James. 2004. Poulton, Wallace and Jordan: How discoveries in Papilio butterflies led to a new species concept 100 years ago. Systematics and Biodiversity 1.4: 441–452.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1477200003001300Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Wallace’s 1865 paper on polymorphic mimicry in Papilio butterflies of the Malayan region played a more direct role in the history of evolutionary biology than has been recognized. The author demonstrates the link between Wallace’s paper and a path, via Edward Bagnall Poulton (b. 1856–d. 1943) and Karl Jordan (b. 1861–d. 1959), to the elucidation of Ernst Mayr (b. 1904–d. 2005) and Theodosius Dobzhansky (b. 1900–d. 1975) of the biological species concept and, ultimately, to one part of the modern Evolutionary Synthesis of speciation and genetics. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Ollerton, Jeff. 2005. Flowering time and the Wallace Effect. Heredity 95.3: 181–182.

    DOI: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800718Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In his 1889 Darwinism, Wallace proposed that natural selection can contribute to the reproductive isolation of incipient species by evolving barriers against hybridization. This mechanism for speciation via hybrid sterility is now known as the Wallace Effect or reinforcement. The author of this article summarizes recent empirical evidence that supports the occasional operation of the Wallace Effect.

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Biogeography

Wallace is justly viewed as the founder of the modern science of biogeography. Riddle and Hafner 2010 emphasizes Wallace’s pioneering work on transition zones in the Malay Archipelago as establishing observational and theoretical models in evolutionary and ecological biogeography. Michaux 2010 proposed the name “Wallacean biogeographical unit” (p. 195) for a group of endemic species that share a biological as well as geological history in honor of Wallace’s classic studies on speciation and isolation. Camerini 1993 is fundamental for studies of the conceptual and culturally persuasive functions of Wallace’s maps of the biota of the East Indian Archipelago. Another readable account of the development of Wallace’s biogeographical ideas while travelling through the islands of Southeast Asia is van Oosterzee 1997, though this work is less historiographically sophisticated than Camerini and is marred by certain presentist inaccuracies. Egerton 2012a and Egerton 2012b situate Wallace’s major contributions to biogeography within the context of some of his contemporary Victorian naturalist-explorers. Moore 2005 argues that Wallace’s human biogeography (especially after 1865)—his geopolitics—unlike Darwin’s did not always run in parallel with the dominant culture of British imperialism and colonization. Finally, Daws and Fujita 1999 is an introductory account of Wallace’s travels and biogeographical insights in the Malay Archipelago and is notable for its beautiful photographs of the Indonesian faunal and floral landscape. It also includes a thoughtful discussion of the looming biodiversity crisis of the Indonesian islands today.

Human Evolution

From the outset of his long career, humans were an integral part of Wallace’s investigations of nature. Alves 2011 assesses the interaction of nature and culture in Wallace’s perceptions of the Amazon regions. Vetter 2006 shows how Wallace’s biogeographical conclusions about human groups in the Malay Archipelago were influenced by the colonial mentality of Britain as well as the experiences of the local inhabitants with whom he collaborated and who were the objects of his studies. Tsao 2010 is a suggestive, if preliminary, analysis of Wallace’s views on sociocultural evolution and interracial relations. Wallace 1864 is Wallace’s famous attempt to resolve the disputes between the so-called monogenists and polygenists on the question of the origin and relation of the several races of man. Kuklick 1996 is useful for situating Wallace’s views on race, culture, and evolution within the broader sociohistorical context of late Victorian and early-20th-century debates in anthropology and ethnology. Benton 2009 is a fine analysis of some key differences that arose between Wallace and Darwin from the mid-1860s onward on human distinctiveness, racial and gender divisions, and the future prospects of humanity. Ruse 2008 argues that Wallace’s position as an iconoclast within the Victorian scientific establishment is clearest in his (revised) views on human origins. Vetter 2010 explores the reasons that Wallace moved away from the arena of professional societies during the 1860s to other social locations to pursue anthropological questions.

  • Alves, José Jerônimo de Alencar. 2011. A natureza e a cultura no compasso de um naturalista do século XIX: Wallace e a Amazônia. História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos 18.3: 775–788.

    DOI: 10.1590/S0104-59702011000300010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article (Nature and culture in the eyes of a nineteenth-century naturalist: Wallace and the Amazon) argues that Wallace’s perceptions of the Amazon were informed by his knowledge of field and theoretical biology but also influenced by judgments of an ethical and aesthetic nature. Maintains that Wallace saw the region’s “natives” as peaceful and friendly but likewise susceptible to the vices of civilization.

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  • Benton, Ted. 2009. Race, sex and the “earthly paradise”: Wallace versus Darwin on human evolution and prospects. In Special issue: Sociological Review monograph series: Nature, society and environmental crisis. Edited by Bob Carter and Nickie Charles. Sociological Review 57.S2: 23–46.

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    An insightful analysis of some key differences that arose between Wallace and Darwin from the mid-1860s onward on human distinctiveness, racial and gender divisions, and the future prospects of humanity. The author concludes that Wallace’s commitment to environmental justice and Darwin’s philosophical legacy of a non-reductive naturalism are both crucially important resources for the new thinking demanded by our current ecological and economic impasse. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Kuklick, Henrika. 1996. Islands in the Pacific: Darwinian biogeography and British anthropology. American Ethnologist 23.3: 611–638.

    DOI: 10.1525/ae.1996.23.3.02a00090Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Anchors the rise of modern British anthropology in the biogeographical ideas of Darwin and Wallace, particularly their views on the significance of island zoogeography. Useful for briefly situating Wallace’s views on race, culture, and evolution within the broader sociohistorical context of late Victorian and early-20th-century debates in anthropology and ethnology. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Ruse, Michael. 2008. Alfred Russel Wallace, the discovery of natural selection, and the origins of humankind. In Rebels, mavericks, and heretics in biology. Edited by Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich, 20–36. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Examines the reasons that Wallace may be characterized, in part, as an iconoclast within the establishment of Victorian science. Argues that this identity is clearest in Wallace’s (revised) views on the origin of humankind.

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  • Tsao, Tiffany. 2010. Paradise observed: Taxonomic perspective in Alfred Russel Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago. Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies 15.2: 28–41.

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    Argues that although Wallace may have been influenced by some theological and Romantic inclinations, the comparatively egalitarian opinions on race that he presented in The Malay Archipelago relied as much or more so on his utilization of scientific precedent and his conception of natural selection theory, in particular his application of taxonomic classification. Suggestive, if preliminary, analysis of Wallace’s views on sociocultural evolution and interracial relations.

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  • Vetter, Jeremy. 2006. Wallace’s other line: Human biogeography and field practice in the eastern colonial tropics. Journal of the History of Biology 39.1: 89–123.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10739-005-6543-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Valuable addition to scholarship on Wallace’s views on human biogeography, focusing on his use of field-mapping practices to draw a boundary line between Malay and Papuan groups in the colonial East Indies in the 1850s. Shows how Wallace’s conclusions were influenced by both the colonial mentality of Britain and the experiences of the local inhabitants with whom he collaborated and who were the objects of his studies. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Vetter, Jeremy. 2010. The unmaking of an anthropologist: Wallace returns from the field, 1862–70. Notes & Records of the Royal Society 64.1: 25–42.

    DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2009.0013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes Wallace’s involvement in the two major London scientific institutions devoted to the study of man, the Ethnological Society and its breakaway counterpart the Anthropological Society. Demonstrates that Wallace’s increasing differences with both of them resulted in his turning toward “other social locations for cultivating his knowledge of and engagement with questions involving the study of humanity” (p. 25). Useful for both undergraduates and advanced researchers.

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  • Wallace, Alfred R. 1864. The origin of human races and the antiquity of man deduced from the theory of “Natural Selection.” Journal of the Anthropological Society of London 2:clviii–clxxxvii.

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    This paper, read at the Anthropological Society of London meeting of 1 March 1864, is Wallace’s attempt to resolve the disputes between the so-called monogenists and polygenists on the question of the origin and relation of the several races of man; testifies to Wallace’s enduring conviction that the findings of evolutionary biology bore directly on sociopolitical issues.

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Social and Political Thought

Throughout his life, sociopolitical concerns were at the forefront of Wallace’s theoretical and practical endeavors. Jones 2002 is an insightful analysis of Wallace’s thought about nature and natural selection in the years up to 1858 in the context of Owenism. Moore 1997 stresses the crucial importance of Wallace’s particular admixture of ethnology, geography, and political economy with biology. Collard 2009 is one of the few studies exploring in depth Wallace’s relationship to economic theory, including that of Malthus, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, and William Stanley Jevons. Stack 2000 is good at situating Wallace’s political thought within the context of seven other Victorian radical social thinkers, including David Ritchie, Henry George, Edward Aveling, and Peter Kropotkin. Wallace’s role in the late Victorian controversies on vaccination was visible and important; Durbach 2005 is the best treatment of the anti-vaccination movement in late Victorian Britain and is crucial for situating Wallace’s particular views. Fichman and Keelan 2007 analyzes Wallace’s role in the politicized debates over the unpopular compulsory vaccination laws and provides a detailed analysis of his deployment of medical statistics in the critique of vaccination science. Weber 2010 discusses the intertexture of sociopolitical and scientific data in the development of Wallace’s anti-vaccination stance. Finally, Stepan 2001 examines Wallace’s depiction of South American nature and human races within the context of the Victorians’ merging of science with the aesthetic and the political in their projections of the “tropical.”

  • Collard, David. 2009. Alfred Russel Wallace and the political economists. History of Political Economy 41.4: 605–644.

    DOI: 10.1215/00182702-2009-049Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the few papers exploring in depth Wallace’s relationship to economic theory including that of Malthus, John Stuart Mill (b. 1806–d. 1873), Herbert Spencer (b. 1820–d. 1803), William Stanley Jevons (b. 1835–d. 1882), Henry Sidgwick (b. 1838–d. 1900), Alfred Marshall (b. 1842–d. 1924), and Irving Fisher (b. 1867–d. 1947). Suggests that Wallace’s economics, which attempted to analyze practical socialism, protection of the environment, and monetary stability, was insightful but only loosely related to evolutionary theory. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Durbach, Nadja. 2005. Bodily matters: The anti-vaccination movement in England, 1853–1907. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    Vivid and persuasive contextualization of the anti-vaccination movement in late Victorian England. Useful for situating Wallace’s views

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  • Fichman, Martin, and Jennifer E. Keelan. 2007. Resister’s logic: The anti-vaccination arguments of Alfred Russel Wallace and their role in the debates over compulsory vaccination in England, 1870–1907. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38.3: 585–607.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2007.06.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analysis of Wallace’s role in the politicized debates over the unpopular compulsory vaccination laws. The authors clearly situate Wallace’s anti-vaccination logic within the broader matrix of sociopolitical and cultural reform movements of the late Victorian era. Additionally, they provide the first detailed analysis of his deployment of medical statistics in the critique of vaccination science. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Jones, Greta. 2002. Alfred Russel Wallace, Robert Owen and the theory of natural selection. British Journal for the History of Science 35.1: 73–96.

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    Perceptive analysis of Wallace’s thought in the years up to 1858 in the context of Owenism. The author examines (1) Wallace’s views on the role of instinct in animal and human behavior; (2) the idea of colonization in human society and in nature; and (3) the role of Malthus in Wallace’s thought, emphasizing the influence upon him of the early-19th-century socialist critique of Malthusianism. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Moore, James, 1997. Wallace’s Malthusian moment: The common context revisited. In Victorian science in context. Edited by Bernard Lightman, 290–311. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226481104.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author suggests that one source for Wallace’s recollection (1858) of the significance of Malthus for his theory of natural selection while he was on an island in the Moluccas (Gilolo or Ternate) was his early surveying in Wales. Stresses the importance of Wallace’s particular admixture of ethnology, geography, and political economy with biology.

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  • Stack, D. A. 2000. The first Darwinian left: Radical and socialist responses to Darwin, 1859–1914. History of Political Thought 21.4 (Winter): 682–710.

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    Situates Wallace’s political thought within the context of seven other late Victorian radical and social thinkers, including David George Ritchie (b. 1853–d. 1903), Henry George (b. 1839–d. 1897), Edward Aveling (b. 1849–d. 1898), and Peter Kropotkin (b. 1842–d. 1921). Examines Wallace’s attempt to resolve the perceived tension between the dictate of natural selection and the promise of socialist politics.

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  • Stepan, Nancy Leys. 2001. Picturing tropical nature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    Important for situating Wallace’s depiction of South American nature and races, through his travel writing and conceptual and visual constructs, within the larger Victorian understanding of the “tropical.” Discusses the work of Alexander von Humboldt (b. 1769–d. 1859) and Louis Agassiz (b. 1807–d. 1873) as well as Wallace in analyzing the Victorians’ merging of science with the aesthetic and the political in their projections of the tropical.

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  • Weber, Thomas P. 2010. Alfred Russel Wallace and the Antivaccination Movement in Victorian England. Emerging Infectious Diseases 16.4: 664–668.

    DOI: 10.3201/eid1604.090434Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Maintains that Wallace’s anti-vaccination stance is significant in showing that vaccine delivery systems must suit social, cultural, and political realities as well as scientific data.

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Spiritualism

Spiritualism was a controversial subject in Victorian Britain but one with widespread popular and scientific interest. Wallace’s public conversion to and vigorous defense of spiritualism in his later career was yet another field that brought him into conflict with many in the emerging professional community of science. Oppenheim 1985 remains one of the best studies of Victorian spiritualism and psychical research generally and is a good introduction both for undergraduates and advanced researchers. Winter 1998 (though it deals mainly with mesmerism) is an influential analysis that argues for a reevaluation of precisely what constituted “center” and “margin” during a period in which many intellectuals and public figures experimented with mesmerism and spiritualism, and the boundaries of scientific and medical orthodoxy were not yet clearly established. Lamont 2004 is a balanced study of spiritualism within the context of mid-Victorian controversies on the nature of evidence and the authority of science and religion and affords useful insights about Wallace and other scientists with respect to cultural discourse about science. Moore 2008 situates Wallace’s spiritualism within the context of the Victorian professionalization of science and is useful for both undergraduates and researchers. Peck 2003 is one of the few essays that examine Wallace’s spiritualism within the context of 19th- and 20th-century metaphysics. Liu 2010 is of interest as a Chinese contribution to Wallace and Darwin studies by a scholar at Peking University. Finally, Wallace 1875 and Wallace 1885 are two of Wallace’s better-known defenses of spiritualism, in which he argues that the phenomena of spiritualism follow, rather than contravene, the laws of nature and are in accord with observation, empirical verification, and scientific reasoning.

  • Lamont, Peter. 2004. Spiritualism and a mid-Victorian crisis of evidence. Historical Journal 47.4: 897–920.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0018246X04004030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Balanced study of spiritualism within the context of mid-Victorian controversies on the nature of evidence and the authority of science and religion. Focuses on the debate about the authenticity of the séance phenomena associated with the celebrated medium D. D. Home. Useful comments about Wallace and other scientists with respect to cultural discourse about science. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Liu, Li. 2010. Evolutionism combined with spiritualism: A. R. Wallace’s approach. Journal of Cambridge Studies 5.4: 16–26.

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    Curious example of a Chinese contribution to Wallace and Darwin studies by a scholar at Peking University.

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  • Moore, James. 2008. Wallace in Wonderland. In Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 353–367. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Emphasizes Wallace’s efforts to make spiritual knowledge scientific, an effort that belonged more “to the do-it-yourself, democratic sciences of the past” (p. 367) than to the mainstream consensus of the emerging professional scientific community. Appropriate for undergraduates and researchers.

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  • Oppenheim, Janet. 1985. The other world: Spiritualism and psychical research in England; 1850–1914. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Fine cultural contextualization of Victorian spiritualism (and psychical research generally). Useful for situating Wallace within the diverse community who attended séances and investigated spiritualism. Suitable for advanced undergraduates and researchers.

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  • Peck, Steven L. 2003. Randomness, contingency, and faith: Is there a science of subjectivity? Zygon 38.1: 5–23.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-9744.00474Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines Wallace’s spiritualism within the context of 19th- and 20th-century metaphysics, particularly with reference to Søren Kierkegaard (b. 1813–d. 1855). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1875. On miracles and modern spiritualism: Three essays. 3d rev. ed. 1896. London: George Redway.

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    Contains Wallace’s essays “Miracles: An answer to the arguments of Hume, Lecky, and others, against miracles” (pp. 1–29), “The scientific aspect of spiritualism” (pp. 33–144), and “A defence of modern spiritualism” (pp. 145–230). Wallace emphasized that his purpose at this stage of his career was not to promulgate the teachings of spiritualism but to demonstrate the validity of its alleged phenomena.

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  • Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1885. Are the phenomena of spiritualism in harmony with science? Sunday Herald, 26 April: 9.

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    Wallace argues that the phenomena of spiritualism follow, rather than contravene, the laws of nature and are in accord with observation, empirical verification, and scientific reasoning.

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  • Winter, Alison. 1998. Mesmerized: Powers of mind in Victorian Britain. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    An influential reevaluation of what constituted “center” and “margin” during a period in which many intellectuals and public figures experimented with mesmerism, and the boundaries of scientific and medical orthodoxy were not yet clearly established. Relevant as suggesting a model for approaching Wallace’s role in the controversy over the meaning and practice of spiritualism and his part in Victorian cultural negotiations of questions of intellectual and scientific legitimacy.

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Wallace and Darwin

As two of the most important figures in the history of evolutionary biology, Wallace and Darwin have been, and continue to be, the subjects of a vast scholarly as well as popular fascination. Considering that they could have been bitter rivals for the title of founder of the modern theory of evolution by natural selection, the personal and professional relationship between the two was cordial, indeed warm. However, certain of their respective defenders and chroniclers have adopted a more overly combative stance than the two themselves ever manifested (at least publicly). The two following subsections provide selected entries dealing with Wallace’s and Darwin’s major scientific differences and with certain personal and socioeconomic contrasts between them.

Scientific Differences

There are some major differences between Wallace’s and Darwin’s understanding of the scope of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. Perhaps the most fundamental of these contrasts focused on sexual selection. Kottler 1980 and Kottler 1985 are pioneering and still highly valuable studies of the debates between Wallace and Darwin on the roles of sexual selection and natural selection in the origin of sexual dimorphism. Kottler 1985 also discusses the Wallace/Darwin differences with respect to the origin of hybrid sterility and the origin of the human species and the various human races. Cronin 1991 is an authoritative history of the questions of sexual selection (the peacock) and altruism (the ant) from the mid-Victorian period until the last decade of the 20th century; this book is suitable for undergraduates as well as scholars. Johnson 2008 is helpful on the contemporary significance of the debates between Wallace and Darwin on whether hybrid sterility can evolve via the mechanism of natural selection, i.e., if hybrid sterility can ever be adaptive. Prum 2012 argues for the continuing scientific relevance of the Wallace-Darwin debates. Soler and Moreno 2012 suggests that recent empirical evidence on sexual dichromatism in avian plumage partly supports the evolutionary scenarios of both Wallace and Darwin. Fagan 2007 is a good analysis of the contrast between Wallace’s emphasis on species and genera in his writings from South America (1848–1852) and the Malay Archipelago (1854–1862) and Darwin’s emphasis on individual organisms in his writings during the Beagle voyage (1831–1836). For a more philosophical approach, Kleiner 1985 focuses on Wallace’s and Darwin’s epistemological research programs.

  • Cronin, Helena. 1991. The ant and the peacock: Altruism and sexual selection from Darwin to today. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Authoritative history of the questions of sexual selection (as exemplified by the peacock in the title) and altruism (the ant) from the mid-Victorian period until the last decade of the 20th century. Especially good on the debates between Wallace and Darwin on those crucial puzzles for their evolutionary theories. Suitable for undergraduates as well as scholars.

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  • Fagan, Melinda B. 2007. Wallace, Darwin, and the practice of natural history. Journal of the History of Biology 40.4: 601–635.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10739-007-9126-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Perceptive examination of the contrast between Wallace’s emphasis on species and genera in his writings from South America and the Malay Archipelago and Darwin’s emphasis on individual organisms in his writings during the Beagle voyage. Focusing on their different field practices, the author shows that both Darwin and Wallace nonetheless utilized differential survival of individual organisms as a basis for their developing theories of evolution at the group level. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Johnson, Norman A. 2008. Direct selection for reproductive isolation: The Wallace effect and reinforcement. In Natural selection and beyond: The intellectual legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace. Edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni, 114–124. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Able analysis of the contemporary significance of the debates between Wallace and Darwin on whether hybrid sterility can evolve via the mechanism of natural selection, i.e., if hybrid sterility can ever be adaptive.

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  • Kleiner, Scott A. 1985. Darwin’s and Wallace’s revolutionary research programme. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36.4: 367–392.

    DOI: 10.1093/bjps/36.4.367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that from early in their careers, both Wallace and Darwin developed revolutionary research programs that underlay their approaches to an evolutionary understanding of the data of biogeography. The author contends that both Wallace and Darwin directed arguments against certain aspects of Lyellian epistemology that included laws governing the supernatural introduction of new species. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Kottler, Malcolm Jay. 1980. Darwin, Wallace, and the origin of sexual dimorphism. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 124.3 (June): 203–226.

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    Pioneering and still insightful analysis of the debates between Wallace and Darwin on the roles of sexual selection and natural selection in the origin of sexual dimorphism, with a focus on the critical case of sex-linked mimicry. The author rightly predicts that this aspect of the debates between the cofounders of natural selection is fundamental because their often opposing positions will continue to be prominent alternatives in evolutionary science. See also Caro, et al. 2008a and Caro, et al. 2008b, both cited under Applications.

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  • Kottler, Malcolm Jay, 1985. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace: Two decades of debate over natural selection. In The Darwinian Heritage. Edited by David Kohn, 367–432. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Still fundamental analysis of the major disagreements between Wallace and Darwin on the role of natural selection in the explanation of major classes of phenomena, such as the origin of hybrid sterility, the origin of sexual dimorphism, and the origin of man and human races. Suitable for advanced undergraduates and researchers.

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  • Prum, Richard O. 2012. Aesthetic evolution by mate choice: Darwin’s really dangerous idea. In Special issue: Sexual selection, social conflict and the female perspective. Edited and compiled by Dustin R. Rubenstein, Richard Prum and Michael Levandowsky. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367.1600: 2253–2265.

    DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the (largely unresolved) Wallace-Darwin debates on sexual selection and the limits of natural selection still retain significant methodological relevance for contemporary evolutionary theory.

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  • Soler, J. J., and J. Moreno. 2012. Evolution of sexual dichromatism in relation to nesting habits in European passerines: A test of Wallace’s hypothesis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25.8: 1614–1622.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02544.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Wallace proposed in 1868 (and 1889) that natural selection could explain the striking differences in avian plumage between males and females (sexual dichromatism). Thus, he predicted that nesting habits, through their association with nest predation, could drive changes in sexual dichromatism, whereas Darwin argued in 1871 that sexual selection was the sole explanation for dimorphism. The authors conclude that their empirical results partly support the evolutionary scenarios of both Wallace and Darwin. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Personal Factors

There is a substantial, often speculative and polemical literature on precisely when Wallace’s Ternate essay reached Darwin at Down House in 1858. Van Wyhe and Rookmaaker 2012 attempts to put to rest the assertions of conspiracy theorists that Darwin was dishonest and lied about the timing of his receipt of Wallace’s Ternate essay to advance his own claims for priority. However, Smith 2013 concludes that because all the documents at stake in the controversy have not survived, historians may never be able to settle the matter definitively. More recently, Davies 2013 contends that Darwin did, in fact, become aware of Wallace’s novel ideas earlier than he admitted. Beddall 1988 describes Wallace’s copy of On the origin of species; Wallace’s annotations are of unique historical interest. Finally, the marked disparity in the socioeconomic status of the joint discoverers of natural selection is of extreme historical importance (see Biographies). Colp 1992 highlights the letter written by Darwin to Prime Minister William Gladstone (b. 1809–d. 1898) on behalf of a civil list pension for Wallace in 1881.

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