This volume brings together the letters of the great Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) during his famous travels of 1854-62 in the Malay Archipelago (now Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia), which led him to come independently to the same conclusion as Charles Darwin: that evolution occurs through natural selection. Beautifully written, they are filled with lavish descriptions of the remote regions he explored, the peoples, and fascinating details of the many new species of mammals, birds, and insects he discovered during his time there. John van Wyhe and Kees Rookmaaker present new transcriptions of each of the letters, including recently discovered letters that shed light on the voyage and on questions such as Wallace's reluctance to publish on evolution, and why he famously chose to write to Darwin rather than to send his work to a journal directly. A revised account of Wallace's itinerary based on new research by the editors forms part of an introduction that sets the context of the voyage, and the volume includes full notes to all letters.
Together the letters form a remarkable and vivid document of one of the most important journeys of the 19th century by a great Victorian naturalist.
John van Wyhe is a historian of science, Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Biological Sciences & History and a Fellow of Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore. He is the founder and Director of Darwin Online and Wallace Online, Professorial Fellow of Charles Darwin University, Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and a Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum (London). He lectures and broadcasts on Darwin, Wallace, and the history of science around the world. Kees Rookmaaker is a biologist specialising in the history of zoology. He has worked for the past eight years on Darwin and Wallace, including bibliography and transcriptions of notebooks and letters. He has also edited detailed surveys of all letters received by the Museum of Zoology, University in Cambridge during the 19th century. He is the author of over 200 papers and several books. He received the Founder's Medal of the Society for the History of Natural History.