The Wallace Connection
7 November 2013 was the centenary of the death of an amazing naturalist who had an extraordinary impact on the scientific world – Alfred Russel Wallace. To help mark this anniversary the latest Kew magazine reveals the connections between this great man and Kew.
There's plenty in the news at the moment about Alfred Russel Wallace, and here at Kew magazine we certainly wanted to celebrate the work of one of the best naturalists in the history of science. Not only did Wallace discover plenty of new species, map unexplored areas, and become known as the father of biogeography – he is also the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
There is plenty in the Kew archives about Wallace, including many letters to the directors of the Gardens discussing both science and whether he could have a few plants for his own garden. There are also some intriguing palm specimens which were the only specimens to survive his arduous expedition to the Amazon after his ship home burned and sank.
Read Stephanie Pain's revealing article and then take a look at a charming little animated film she recommended to me from The New York Times.
You can find out lots more about Wallace and the celebrations of his centenary at the Natural History Museum, who have been co-ordinating the events. A new statue of Wallace has just been unveiled at the Museum too!
Although many view Wallace as a man who was overshadowed by his counterpart Charles Darwin, Wallace certainly never thought so at the time and indeed was one of the most celebrated scientists of his day. Whatever your view, now is the time to remember this giant of natural history and admire his tenacity and ground-breaking insights.