The Alfred Russel Wallace Reader: A Selection of Writings from the Field

Front Cover
JHU Press, 2002 - 219 pages
Long overshadowed by his contemporaries Charles Darwin and Thomas H. Huxley, Alfred Russel Wallace was an English naturalist and pioneer evolutionist who researched biological diversity through extensive exploration and travel. Independent of Darwin, Wallace developed a theory of evolution through natural selection, which ultimately spurred Darwin to complete and publish his own Origin of Species. Famous for drawing Wallace's Line, the boundary line separating the Asian and Australian zoological regions, Wallace's studies of the distribution of plants and animals pioneered an evolutionary approach to global and island biogeography. This study reintroduces Wallace to a general readership beyond the cadre of scientists and historians familiar with his work.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction ºr Biographical Sketch 1
Wales 18
The Amazon 61
The Malay Archipelago 103
The World 152
Notes 205
Bibliography 211

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Born in Usk, Wales, Alfred Wallace had a very limited education, yet he became a noted naturalist and independently developed the theory of evolution, which is most commonly associated with the name of Charles Darwin. Wallace's formal education was completed with his graduation from grammar school at the age of 14. Having developed an interest in natural history, he avidly pursued this study during his years as a teacher in Leicester, England. In 1848 Wallace went to Brazil to study animals of the Amazon. Returning to England in 1853, he departed a year later on an expedition to the East Indies, where he remained for nine years. It was during this time that he developed his theory of evolution, essentially the same theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest that Darwin had developed and had been painstakingly perfecting before making his views known. Wallace sent his paper setting forth his theory to Darwin, who recognized that his and Wallace's theories were the same. The theory was presented in a joint paper before the Linnaean Society, an organization of scientists, in London in 1858. With Wallace's agreement, Darwin was given the major credit for developing the theory because of the wide-ranging body of evidence that he had amassed in support of it.

Writer David Quammen grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and was later educated at both Yale and Oxford Universities. Quammen began his career by writing for The Christian Science Monitor, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Audubon, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Harpers Magazines. He wrote the novels The Soul of Viktor Tronko and The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions, which won the 1997 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. He also received two National Magazine Awards for his column "Natural Acts" in Outside magazine.

Bibliographic information