Skip to page content

The Darwin and Wallace joint paper

The Darwin and Wallace joint paper

Catalogue number: WP7/9

Offprint copy of the joint paper by Darwin and Wallace presented to the Linnean Society 'On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection', dated 1858.

This is an offprint copy of the famous paper read by Dr J.D. Hooker and Sir Charles Lyell at the Linnean Society on 1 July 1858.  The pages are sewn into a brown paper cover onto which Wallace has written 'Species - Darwin & Wallace'. The introduction outlines the circumstances of the paper - that Darwin and Wallace 'independently and unknown to one another, conceived the very same ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific forms...'

The paper is split into three parts - first an extract from a manuscript by Darwin; second an abstract of a letter, from Darwin, addressed to Professor Asa Gray, dated 1857, and included to reinforce that Darwin did not steal Wallace's ideas; and, finally, Wallace's essay written in February 1858 following a bout of malaria on an island near Ternate in the Malay Archipelago. Wallace's section contains a few handwritten corrections.

Most interesting is the back page of the document (as seen in the transcription). Wallace has written a comment, dated February 1860, about Darwin's book On the Origin of Species (1859): 'I find that there is absolutely nothing here that is not in almost perfect agreement with that gentleman's facts and opinions'. This statement highlights Wallace's deep respect for Darwin and that they agreed on most points relating to natural selection. Wallace ends with 'many of his facts and explanations on geographical distribution are also quite new to me and of the highest interest'. Indeed, Wallace would go on to fully develop the study of biogeography, culminating in his epic book The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876).

Search this collection
Contact us

For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library

Wallace Letters Online

Letter to Alfred Russel Wallace from the Royal Society, about his Darwin Medal award

View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.

Explore Wallace's correspondence