"I begin to feel rather dissatisfied with a mere local collection - little is to be learnt by it. I shd like to take some one family, to study thoroughly - principally with a view to the theory of the origin of species. By that means I am strongly of opinion that some definite results might be arrived at."
[From a letter sent by Wallace to Henry Walter Bates in 1847]
"...there is no more admirable character in the history of science." Sir David Attenborough
Welcome to the Wallace Correspondence Project's (WCP) homepage. This ongoing project aims to locate, digitize, transcribe, interpret and publish the surviving correspondence and other manuscripts of the great 19th century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Wallace has very many claims to fame, not least that he is the 'father' of evolutionary biogeography and the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the process of evolution by natural selection. For more information about his life and work CLICK HERE. A selection of noteworthy letters and other manuscripts are listed HERE.
The WCP's online archive of Wallace's letters and other manuscripts is currently Wallace Letters Online (WLO), which was launched in January 2013. However, WLO has developed a number of bugs and it has not been possible to update it since 2016, so we are planning to soon use the Epsilon digital archive instead. The WCP team is currently working on volume 1 of The Correspondence of Alfred Russel Wallace, which will contain all known letters from his childhood up until his return from the 'Malay Archipelago' in 1862. We estimate that Wallace's correspondence will ultimately fill c. 7 thick volumes, each taking about 2 years to produce.
Letters make up 93% of Wallace's manuscripts. About 4,650 letters to and from Wallace survive, and these are held by c. 180 institutions or private individuals worldwide. Over half of them are in the collections of the British Library (c. 1600) and London's Natural History Museum (c. 1200). Smaller collections are present in other libraries in Britain and the United States of America, and there are a scattering of letters in other institutions and private collections across the Western world.
If you know of any letters which you think we might not yet have found (e.g. letters in private collections) then we would be very grateful if you could contact us. Please CLICK HERE to send us a message.
Common variations of Wallace's name:
Wallace; Alfred Wallace; A. R. Wallace; Alfred R. Wallace; Russel Wallace; Alfred Russell Wallace [sic]
This site is maintained by George Beccaloni Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project and CEO of the Alfred Russel Wallace Trust