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The start of Wallace's Malay Archipelago expedition

The start of Wallace's Malay Archipelago expedition (page 1)

Catalogue number: WP1/3/28

Letter from Wallace to his mother describing the people and wildlife of Singapore, staying with a missionary and the progress of his assistant Charles, dated April 1854.

Wallace wrote this letter to his mother a few days after arriving in Singapore. This was the start of his expedition around the Malay Archipelago.

Wallace described the variety of people living in Singapore, and his stay with a missionary who was 'a very pleasant man'. Wallace had barely started collecting insects but said they were plentiful in the area. As for other wildlife, he says 'I have not seen any tigers yet and do not expect to, for there are not many in this neighbourhood...'

Wallace also comments on his new assistant Charles Allen. 'He is quite well in health and catches a few insects, but he is very untidy which you may imagine by his clothes being all torn to pieces by the time we arrived here.' Wallace expected Charles to improve but he did not. Wallace did not suffer fools gladly. He was a polite and caring man, but expected high standards to equal his own.

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

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