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Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life

Peter Raby June 21, 2020

Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life Peter Raby In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace, aged thirty five, weak with malaria, isolated in the Spice Islands, wrote to Charles Darwin he had, he said excitedly, worked out a theory of natural selection Darwin was aghast his work of decades was about to be scooped Within two weeks, his outline and Wallace s paper were presented jointly in London A year later, with Wallace stillIn 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace, aged thirty five, weak with malaria, isolated in the Spice Islands, wrote to Charles Darwin he had, he said excitedly, worked out a theory of natural selection Darwin was aghast his work of decades was about to be scooped Within two weeks, his outline and Wallace s paper were presented jointly in London A year later, with Wallace still on the opposite side of the globe, Darwin published On the Origin of Species.This new biography of Wallace traces the development of one of the most remarkable scientific travelers, naturalists, and thinkers of the nineteenth century With vigor and sensitivity, Peter Raby reveals his subject as a courageous, unconventional explorer and a man of exceptional humanity He draws extensively on Wallace s correspondence than has any previous biographer and offers a revealing yet balanced account of the relationship between Wallace and Darwin.Wallace lacked Darwin s advantages A largely self educated native of Wales, he spent four years in the in his mid twenties collecting specimens for museums and wealthy patrons, only to lose his finds in a shipboard fire in the mid Atlantic He vowed never to travel again Yet two years later he was off to the East Indies on a vast eight year trek here he discovered countless species and identified the point of divide between Asian and Australian fauna, Wallace s Line After his return, he plunged into numerous controversies and published regularly until his death at the age of ninety, in 1913 He penned a classic volume on his travels, founded the discipline of biogeography, promoted natural selection, and produced a distinctive account of mind and consciousness in man Sensitive and self effacing, he was an ardent socialist and spiritualist Wallace is one of the neglected giants of the history of science and ideas This stirring biography the first for many years puts him back at center stage, where he belongs.

Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life Peter Raby

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    Peter Raby