WALLACE, Alfred Russel

Born: January 8, 1823, in Usk, Monmouthshire, England

Died: November 7, 1913, in Broadstone, Dorset, England

Alfred Russel Wallace was a self-educated English naturalist and philosopher who developed a theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wallace became interested in botany as a child. He left school at the age of fourteen and became a teacher at Leicester in 1844. While teaching, he met British naturalist, Henry Walter Bates who stimulated an interest in insects. In 1848 he explored the Amazon River with Bates and documented the trip in A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and the Rio Negro. Unfortunately, much of their work was lost when the ship sank during the return voyage.

From 1854 to 1862, he conducted research on the islands of Malaysia that led him to conclude that there were zoological differences between the animal species of Asia and Australia. In 1855, his theories about natural selection were published in On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species.

Although Wallace's theories were published before Darwin's, it is an accepted fact that Darwin had a solid theory on paper by 1844. However, when Darwin realized the similarities between their conclusions on the nature of evolution, they jointly published their research in July 1858.

Wallace received the Order of Merit in 1910.