Catalogue number: WP1/2/21
Letter from Wallace to his daughter Violet presenting his argument for an eight-hour working day and double pay for overtime, dated May 1891.
Here Wallace shows his strength in providing clear, well thought-out arguments. He was in favour of an eight-hour working day and double pay for overtime. He explains how this arrangement would create more jobs. Although the cost of goods would rise, so would the workers' wages. He states that this is because 'wages are kept down wholly by the surplus supply of labour in every trade'.
Wallace was dedicated to the ideal of producing a 'more equal distribution of wealth'. This was seen as a radical view, but Wallace did not shy away from controversial opinions.
He was influenced by the teachings of Robert Owen, the social reformer and founder of the Co-operative movement. He attended lectures on these ideas at the Hall of Science in Tottenham Court Road, when he moved to London with his brother John in 1836.
For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library
View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.