An online archive called, Wallace Letters Online (WLO), giving everyone access to the correspondence of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, has been launched on January 24 by comedian and naturalist Bill Bailey at the Natural History Museum. Bailey will also be launching Wallace100, a programme of events to mark the centenary of Wallace’s death, by unveiling an impressive portrait of Wallace in the Museum’s iconic Central Hall, near the famous statue of Darwin.
WLO brings together all surviving letters to and from Wallace, both personal and scholarly, for the first time.His unpublished correspondence is scattered across the collections of more than 100 institutions worldwide so it has been very difficult for people to study, until now.
Highlights in WLO include the fascinating letters he wrote and received during his epic trip to the Malay Archipelago between 1854 and 1862, and his complete correspondence with Charles Darwin, which has never been published in full before. Online materials will also include other important documents, such as Wallace’s notebooks from the Museum’s Wallace Family Archive.
Alfred Russel Wallace is considered by many to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. Not only did he independently discover natural selection, he also founded the science of evolutionary biogeography; the study of the geographical distribution of plants and animals. He made significant contributions to academic fields as diverse as anthropology and epidemiology, and was an intrepid traveller and avid collector of natural history specimens who sent back thousands of species new to science from South America and south-east Asia.
The above news item is reprinted from materials available at Natural History Museum (NHM). Original text may be edited for content and length.
(Source: NHM NaturePLus blogpost, 24.01.2013)