Skip to page content

Moving to Dorset and brother John's illness

Moving to Dorset and brother John's illness (page 1)

Catalogue number: WP1/2/55

Letter from Wallace to his daughter Violet about, letting 'Nutwood' Cottage, his brother's cancer and sending insect specimens, dated November 1894

Wallace explains to Violet that 'selling Nutwood is now out of the question'. In 1889 when Wallace moved from Nutwood Cottage in Surrey, to Parkstone in Dorset, he decided to let the cottage to provide an income for the family. This would also be a legacy for his wife Annie. He says '...it brings an income of say £50 clear...' which was a lot of money in 1894. Eventually Wallace changed his mind about Nutwood. He sold it to pay for the land and materials to build his last house, Old Orchard in 1901.

Wallace writes that he has 'dreadful news from California'. He refers here to his older and only surviving brother John, who moved to America. John had cancerous tumours on his neck and face. The surgery was 'either...left too long or was badly done'. John was now unable to open his eye or jaw properly. Medical techniques were crude, as 'they cut the nerves' when doctors tried to remove the tumour.

Since John was the first person in the family to have cancer, Wallace attributes John's condition to 'that horrid vaccination'. Wallace became noted for his anti-vaccination views. Since John was about 75 years old we might not be surprised at such an illness today.

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