Wallace Collection learning activities

Wallace’s attitude to Charles Darwin

In recent years there has been controversy about whether Darwin or Wallace first came up with the idea of natural selection. Read Wallace’s letters and draw your own conclusions.

Explore the Collection by following the link below, then answer the questions.

Skills practice: research, analysis, interpretation and supporting conclusions with evidence.

WP1/3/54: Wallace's sense of humour and admiration for Darwin

This letter, dated January 1863, is from Wallace to his brother John in California. In the letter, Wallace praises Darwin’s book, replies humorously to a request for silkworm eggs and refers to new photographs he is sending.

  1. People disagree about whether it was Darwin or Wallace who first came up with the idea of natural selection. Read a summary of the story in the interpretation section.
  2. Look at page 1 of the letter. What is the evidence that Wallace had anything to do with Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species?
  3. What was Wallace’s attitude toward Darwin and the book? Use this letter and WP7/9 to provide evidence for your answer.