Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters from the Malay Archipelago

ISBN : 9780199684007

John Van Wyhe; Kees Rookmaaker
352 Pages
160 x 233 mm
Pub date
Sep 2015
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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). it was these travels which led him to come independently to the same conclusion as Charles Darwin: that evolution occurs through natural selection. Beautifully written, the letters 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.


England to Singapore and Malacca, 4 March-16 October 1854
Borneo, 17 October 1854-23 May 1856
Bali, Lombock and Celebes, 23 May-16 December 1856
Aru and Amboyna, 17 December 1856-7 January 1858
Ternate and New Guinea, 8 January-8 October 1858
Batchian and Ternate, 9 October 1858 - 9 June 1859
Menado, Amboyna and Ceram, 10 June 1859 - 16 June 1860
Waigiou, Ternate, Timor, 17 June 1860 - 5 July 1861
Java, Sumatra and back home, 6 July 1861 - 31 March 1862

About the author: 

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 work on 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. ;

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