Skip navigation
1 2 Previous Next

Wallace100

18 Posts tagged with the bill_bailey tag
0

It will be broadcast this Sunday 28 April on BBC2 at 8 pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer not long afterwards. The first part was very highly praised, and in my opinion the second part is even better. Don't miss it!

 

JungleHero2.jpg

0

Be sure to watch this on BBC2 this Sunday at 20.00!

 

TX-card-crop-pro1.5 (1).jpg

See the BBC's Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero pages for more details, plus clips from the series and lots more!

0

An article I recently wrote entitled Alfred Russel Wallace and Natural Selection: the Real Story has just been put onto the Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero page on the BBC website as a downloadable pdf file. If you think you know the story of how Wallace and Darwin came to publish the theory of natural selection together you might be in for a few surprises!

0

Bill Bailey's two part TV series on Wallace is finally ready to be broadcast. It is called Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero and the first episode will be shown on BBC2 at 20.00 on 21 April, and episode 2 on 28 April. Nothing like this has ever been made about Wallace before and I am hoping that it will increase interest in his life and work considerably. I have seen an almost finished version and I think it is excellent. Bill's subtle and surreal humour works brilliantly to keep the viewer entertained, whilst not detracting from or trivialising the story. Bill's personal passion for the subject is obvious.

 

I was Series Consultant for the programme and my main jobs were to provide information about Wallace and to check all the facts to ensure that the script was as historically accurate as possible. Due to constraints such as not being able to film on all the islands that the Producers would have liked to, and the need to simplify the story for television, a few minor inaccuracies remain that should only be noticed by a few real Wallace geeks.

George & Coconut Crab.small.jpgMe admiring a nocturnal coconut crab (the world's largest terrestrial arthropod!) in Sulawesi.
Copyright: Jan Beccaloni.

 

In July last year I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks working on the second programme with Bill and the BBC crew in Indonesia (Sulawesi, Ternate and Halmahera). I had an amazing time: I experienced the first earthquake of my life (scary), got up close and personal with black macaques (one even used my back as a trampoline when I bent over to photograph an insect!), was enthralled by gremlin-like tarsiers, impressed by colossal coconut crabs, and blown-away by Wallace's standardwing birds of paradise displaying only about 10 metres away from me. My wife Jan came out as well and we wrote a number of posts for this blog about our experiences, starting with this one.

 

More information about Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero, including some clips (two of which are footage which never made it in to the programme), can be seen on the BBC2 website. Put the dates in your calendar and tune in on the 21 Apr to see the first episode.

Bill&GeorgeInHalmahera.jpgMyself and Bill in the jungle in Halmahera island.
Photo by Jan Beccaloni. Copyright NHM.
0

Background to the project

 

On the 15th July 2012 the Wallace Memorial Fund, with the enthusiastic support of its Patron, comedian and natural historian Bill Bailey, and its Treasurer, Wallace's grandson Richard, began a campaign to raise £50,000 for a life-size bronze statue of Wallace for the Museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death in 2013. The campaign closed 7 months later on the 16th February 2013 and exactly £25,000 was raised.

 

Although the Wallace Fund's campaign has now ended the fundraising will continue until August 2013 thanks to the kind people who are organising the 2013 Ancestor's Trail. This year's event will be Wallace themed and the aim will be to try to raise the remaining £25,000 for the statue. In the meantime, the Wallace Fund has commissioned sculptor Anthony Smith to produce a model for the full statue as the Fund is optimistic that all the money will be raised in time. Anthony has kindly agreed to write a series of posts for this blog documenting the process of making the statue. The first of his posts is below.

 

Hello from the sculptor

 

As this is my first post about the Wallace statue, I should first say a little something about myself... My name is Anthony Smith and I am a British sculptor (now based in Amsterdam). Before I began my career as a sculptor, I studied biology at Cambridge University, specialising in animal behaviour and evolution. It was then, at the age of nineteen, that I bought my 1st edition copy of Alfred Russel Wallace's book Darwinism – and I have been fascinated by him ever since. It is therefore a huge honour and delight to have been commissioned to create a statue of Wallace (which is, of course, long overdue) and I can think of no better location for it than the wonderful Natural History Museum in London!

 

I will be following up this message with various posts and photos throughout the sculpting process, keeping everyone up-to-date with the progress of the statue. But at the moment I can let you know that I have begun the ground-work for the statue – constructing a mobile sculpting platform, and beginning work on the steel armature that will support the clay sculpture. Photos to follow in due course... watch this space!

 

For more information about myself and my previous work, feel free to visit my website.

0

Watch a 30 minute Nature Live talk with George Beccaloni and Caroline Catchpole about Wallace's early life and his adventures in the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago. The event on 25 January 2013 marked the simultaneous launch of the Museum's Wallace100 events programme and Wallace Letters Online, and it features footage of comedian and Wallace fan Bill Bailey unveiling the magnificent portrait of Wallace, newly reinstated in the Museum's Central Hall.

 

 

0

Thursday 24 January saw the official launch of both the Museum's Wallace100 events programme for 2013 and the Wallace Correspondence Project's (WCP) digital archive of Wallace's correspondence - Wallace Letters Online (WLO). The launches took place at an evening event for people directly connected with these projects.

 

There were about 80 guests, including three generations of the Wallace family, Sir David Attenborough (Patron of the WCP), comedian and naturalist Bill Bailey, Wallace biographer Peter Raby, representatives of the Linnean, Royal Geographical and Royal Entomological Societies, staff from Kew Gardens, and from Museums at Thurrock, Hertford, Dudley, Swansea, Cardiff and Oxford (all of which are planning Wallace exhibitions this year).

 

Other notable guests included the Deputy Indonesian Ambassador to the UK, a Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project and a great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. There were also about 16 Museum staff working on the night.

Judith,Shane&Andy.c.NHM.jpgLeft to right: Judith Magee (Wallace100 manager), Shane Winser (Royal Geographical Society), Andy Polaszek (Wallace100 manager).
© Natural History Museum
WallaceGreatGrandsons&Bill.c.J.Beccaloni.jpgLeft to right: Richard Wallace (ARW's great-grandson), Bill Bailey, Bill Wallace (ARW's great-grandson).
©  J. Beccaloni
c.J.Beccaloni.jpgLeft to right: John Wallace (ARW's grandson), Rosamund (ARW's great-great-granddaughter), George Beccaloni (director of WLO), Jan Beccaloni (secretary of the Wallace Fund), Susan (ARW's great-granddaughter).
© Natural History Museum

 

The evening started off with drinks and canapés in the Museum's Images of Nature gallery, giving people who are working on Wallace-related projects a chance to network with one another (one of the main aims of the evening). WCP Archivist Caroline Catchpole demonstrated Wallace Letters Online -which had gone live to the public on the Internet for the first time earlier that day - to guests, and the Museum's Nature Live team did short video interviews of selected guests.

TheVenue.c.JanBeccaloni.jpgThe Images of Nature gallery before the guests arrived.
©  J. Beccaloni


Half way through the event an announcement was made and guests gathered around the screen where Caroline had been demonstrating WLO. Bill Bailey then gave a speech about the project, declaring it to be 'officially launched'.

LaunchofWLO.c.NHM.jpgBill launches Wallace Letters Online.
© Natural History Museum

 

Towards the end of the evening guests made their way to the Museum's grand Central Hall and then part way up the central stairs - most gathered on the landing where the magnificent marble statue of Charles Darwin resides. Bill Bailey then made his way up the stairs and stood under the Museum's painting of Wallace, concealed under a golden cloth.

 

The picture had only two days previously been put back in this position; the one it had first occupied for a 50 year stretch after it was donated in 1923. Bill then gave a brilliant heartfelt speech, before gingerly pulling off the cloth to reveal the impressive portrait of Wallace. Afterwards he remarked "I must confess I was more nervous about that than the Royal Variety Show!"

BillUnveilingPortrait.c.J.Beccaloni.jpgBill unveils the painting...
©  J. Beccaloni
UnveiledPortrait.c.NHM.jpg
The painting revealed.
© Natural History Museum

 

Bill's speech was filmed by a crew from the BBC and it will form the grand finale to a two part documentary about Wallace that he has been working on. After Bill had finished his stuff, another Bill - Wallace's great-grandson, William Wallace - concluded the evening by giving a short speech. Bill, who had travelled all the way from Canada to attend the launch, talked about his great-grandfather and said how proud he and the Wallace family were to see their illustrious relative back at the Museum and next to Darwin, where he belongs.

Bailey&Attenborough.c.J.Beccaloni.jpgBill and Sir David have a chat whilst Darwin looks on.
©  J. Beccaloni

 

Press coverage

 

A number of articles about the launch of Wallace100 and WLO have appeared on the web and in newspapers around the world. The main articles that I am aware of  on the internet are as follows (several of these were reproduced on hundreds  of other websites):

 

Nature

Scientific American

New Scientist

Wired

Daily Mail

The Guardian

The Independent

BBC News

Morning Star

Huffington Post 1

Huffington Post 2

Wellcome Library blog

Biodiversity Heritage Library blog

National Museum of Wales

Hertford Museum

 

Other languages

 

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Swiss newspaper in German)

Slobodna Dalmacija (newspaper in Croatian)

Volkskrant (newspaper in Dutch)

Greek newspaper (in Greek)

Foxnews (in Spanish)

NetMassimo (in Italian)

Gentside découvertes (in French)

Brazilian blog (in Portuguese)

 

Museum news reports about Wallace100 and WLO

 

News article

Wallace100 blog

Library and Archives blog

2

WLO.JPGWallace Letters Online (WLO), an online archive giving everyone access to the correspondence of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, is launched today by comedian and naturalist Bill Bailey at the Natural History Museum. Bailey will also be launching Wallace100, a programme of events to mark the centenary of Wallace’s death, by unveiling an impressive portrait of Wallace in the Museum’s iconic Central Hall, near the famous statue of Darwin.

 

WLO brings together all surviving letters to and from Wallace, both personal and scholarly, for the first time. His unpublished correspondence is scattered across the collections of more than 100 institutions worldwide so it has been very difficult for people to study, until now.

 

Highlights in WLO include the fascinating letters he wrote and received during his epic trip to the Malay Archipelago between 1854 and 1862, and his complete correspondence with Charles Darwin, which has never been published in full before. Online materials will also include other important documents, such as Wallace's notebooks from the Museum’s Wallace Family Archive.

 

Alfred Russel Wallace is considered by many to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. Not only did he independently discover natural selection, he also founded the science of evolutionary biogeography; the study of the geographical distribution of plants and animals.

 

He made significant contributions to academic fields as diverse as anthropology and epidemiology, and was an intrepid traveller and avid collector of natural history specimens who sent back thousands of species new to science from South America and south-east Asia.

 

About 4,500 letters to and from Wallace are known to survive, with more than half of these held in the collections of the Natural History Museum (1,200) and the British Library (1,600). The Wallace Correspondence Project has so far digitised about 95 per cent of the letters, and is searching for others hidden away in libraries and private collections around the world. Wallace Letters Online is the Web interface to the Wallace Correspondence Project's electronic database of Wallace's letters.

 

Dr George Beccaloni, Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project and a curator here at the Museum says, ‘Collating, transcribing and making this material freely available online marks a huge advance in understanding this great man. It presents a wealth of new information for those interested in Wallace’s life, work and beliefs. I hope it will help build a new and more accurate picture of him, and help to bring him out of Darwin's shadow.'

 

More details and highlights of WLO

 

WLO aims to catalogue and provide images and transcripts of all known letters sent to or written by Wallace (including the original envelopes and any enclosures), plus selected letters between others which contain important information pertaining to Wallace (e.g. a letter from Charles Darwin to Thomas Huxley which discusses Wallace). WLO also includes a selection of other important manuscript documents and other items which are not letters e.g. Wallace's notebooks in the Museum's Wallace Family Archive.

 

Current coverage

 

WLO currently contains records of 4,151 letters, of which 2,026 were written by ARW, 1,856 were sent to ARW and 269 are third party letters which pertain to ARW. It also contains details of 26 other documents such as notebooks.

 

WLO currently contains about 95% of Wallace's known surviving correspondence, including all of Wallace's early (pre. 1863) correspondence, and all of the surviving letters he sent or received during his epic trip to the Malay Archipelago between March 1854 and April 1862. It also includes the complete surviving Darwin-Wallace correspondence in full for the first time. Previous published compilations of the Darwin-Wallace letters (i.e. Darwin (1893), Marchant (1916)) are incomplete and the published transcripts were often heavily edited and sometimes suffer from important omissions of text.

 

Highlights of WLO

 

Note: If you would like to find an item in WLO (e.g. WCP4766), go to the Search Page and type the item number minus the "WCP" prefix (e.g. 4766), into the "WCP Number" search box.

 

To see the database entry for each highlight listed below, click the WCP number.

 

 

A) Letters

 

There follows a selection of key letters relating to some of Wallace's greatest discoveries: evolution by natural selection; the Wallace Line; and warning colouration.

 

Early life (1823-1848)

 

WCP346: Wallace to Henry Walter Bates, 28 December 1845. Wallace discusses his views of the book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation - the work which convinced him of the reality of evolution and started him on his quest to discover the mechanism which drives it.  For more information about this letter see here.

 

WCP348: Wallace to Bates, 11 October 1847. This letter contains his famous statement "I begin to feel rather dissatisfied with a mere local collection - little is to be learnt by it. I sh[ould]d like to take some one family, to study thoroughly - principally with a view to the theory of the origin of species. By that means I am strongly of [the] opinion that some definite results might be arrived at." This was the prelude to Wallace suggesting to Bates that they go on a expedition to Brazil to collect birds, butterflies and beetles in order to try to discover what drives the evolution of new species. For more information see here.

 

Four year expedition to the Amazon Basin (1848-1852)

 

WCP349: Wallace to Richard Spruce, 19 September 1852. "On Friday the 6th of August...about 9 o’clock in the morning just after breakfast the Captain (who was the owner of the vessel) came into the cabin & said "I am afraid the ship’s on fire. Come & see what you think of it"". After four years in Brazil, Wallace sailed back to England taking with him the most valuable part of the collection of natural history specimens he had made whilst there. Twenty-six days into the voyage, in the mid-Atlantic, the ship caught fire and sank, taking his specimens down with it. Wallace and the crew took to the lifeboats and miraculously, were rescued 10 days later. This letter describes the sinking.

 

Eight year expedition to the Malay Archipelago (1854-1862)

 

WCP1703: Wallace to his agent Samuel Stevens, 21 August 1856. This letter is the first mention of Wallace's famous discovery of what was later named the Wallace Line - the invisible boundary between the animals of Asia and the Australian region. He says "The Birds have however interested me much more than the insects, they are proportionally much more numerous, and throw great light on the laws of Geographical distribution of Animals in the East. The Islands of Baly & Lombock for instance, though of nearly the same size, of the same soil aspect elevation & climate and within sight of each other, yet differ considerably in their productions, and in fact belong to two quite distinct Zoological provinces, of which they form the extreme limits. As an instance I may mention the Cockatoos, a group of birds confined to Australia & the Moluccas, but quite unknown in Java Borneo Sumatra & Malacca. One species however (Plyctolophus sulphureus) is abundant in Lombock but is unknown in Baly, the island of Lombock forming the extreme eastern limit of its range & that of the whole family. Many other species illustrate the same fact & I am preparing a short account of them for publication." For more information see here.

 

WCP1454: Wallace to Joseph Dalton Hooker, 6 October 1858. This is the only letter which survives of those surrounding Wallace's discovery of natural selection and the subsequent publication of the theory with Charles Darwin. The letter illustrates Wallace's good nature and demonstrates that he was more interested in discovering new ideas than reaping personal glory from publishing them. For more information about the events surrounding Darwin and Wallace's joint publication on natural selection see here.

 

Later life in England (1862-1913)

 

WCP609: Charles Darwin to Wallace, 23 February 1867. Darwin and Wallace became good friends. In this letter Darwin writes "On Monday evening I called on Bates & put a difficulty before him, which he could not answer, & as on some former similar occasion, his first suggestion was, "you had better ask Wallace". My difficulty is, why are caterpillars sometimes so beautifully & artistically coloured?" Darwin was puzzled because his theory of sexual selection (where females choose their mates based on how attractive they are) would not apply to caterpillars  since they are immature.

 

Wallace replied the next day (WCP4083) with the suggestion that since some caterpillars "...are protected by a disagreeable taste or odour, it would be a positive advantage to them never to be mistaken for any of the palatable catterpillars, because a slight wound such as would be caused by a peck of a bird’s bill almost always I believe kills a growing catterpillar. Any gaudy & conspicuous colour therefore, that would plainly distinguish them from the brown & green eatable catterpillars, would enable birds to recognise them easily as at a kind not fit for food, & thus they would escape seizure which is as bad as being eaten.

 

Thus the concept of warning or aposematic colouration in animals was born.

 

WCP575: The Secretary of The Royal Society to Wallace, 6 November 1890. Informing Wallace (with unintended irony) that "... the Royal Society have awarded to you the Darwin Medal for your Independent Origination of the Theory of the Origin of Species by Natural Selection."

 

WCP543: The King's Private Secretary to Wallace, 2 November 1908. Informs Wallace that he is to be awarded the Order of Merit by the King "...in recognition of the great services which you have rendered to science." The Order is awarded by the ruling Monarch and is the highest civilian honour of Great Britain. It has been described as "...quite possibly, the most prestigious honour one can receive on planet Earth." There are only 24 living individuals in the Order at any given time, not including honorary appointees.

 

WCP4244: Wallace to the Biology Students at the University of Colorado, 12 January 1912. In this charming letter, Wallace aged 89 tells the students how "The wonders of nature have been the delight and solace of...[his]...life." and how "...nature has afforded...[him]...an ever increasing rapture, and the attempt to solve some of her myriad problems an ever-growing sense of mystery and awe". He ends by saying "I sincerely wish you all some of the delight in the mere contemplation of nature’s mysteries and beauties which I have enjoyed, and still enjoy."

 

B) Other documents

 

WCP4756: Wallace's personal annotated copy of the famous scientific paper he co-authored with Charles Darwin in 1858, in which the theory of evolution by natural selection was proposed for the first time. For more information about this historically important item see here.

 

WCP4766 and WCP4767: Wallace's two scientifically important 'Species Register' notebooks from his trip to the Malay Archipelago, which meticulously detail the species and specimens of insects, birds and other animals he collected on numerous islands he visited.

 

WCP4779 and WCP4806: Two of Wallace's address books, which cover the period from c. 1864 to his death in 1913, i.e. most of his adult life. Contacts listed include Charles Darwin, Rajah James Brooke (ruler of Sarawak) and hundreds of other, many of whom were very famous at the time.

 

The earlier of the address books was used by him between c. 1864 and c. 1872,  both for listing addresses and for recording his investments in shares etc. The investment records occupy one end of the book and the addresses start from the other end. Also in this book are some interesting lists, such as a list of the people which Wallace sent copies of his book The Malay Archipelago to when it was first published, and a list of "Persons to whom Hampden has abused me" (John Hampden was a flat earth believer who persecuted Wallace for very many years).

 

The second address book has been 'opened from both ends' like the first - with address lists running from one end, and notes about garden plants starting at the other end. There are four separate lists of addresses in this book, each of which is arranged from A to Z, and between each and the next address list are various notes and lists, some of which are historically quite important.

 

WCP4791: Wallace's Last Will and Testament.

 

References

 

 

Darwin, F. (Ed.). 1893. Charles Darwin; His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter and in a Selected Series of His Published Letters. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 365 pp.

 

Marchant, J. (Ed.). 1916. Alfred Russel Wallace; Letters and Reminiscences. London & New York: Cassell and Co. 2 vols., 507 pp.

3

In 1923, to mark the 100th anniversary of Alfred Russel Wallace's birth, a magnificent oil painting of him was donated to the Natural History Museum, London. It hung in the Museum's Central Hall for about 50 years, before being put into storage.

 

To help commemorate this year's 100th anniversary of Wallace's death, the portrait has been repaired, cleaned and revarnished, and it will soon be returned to its original position on the wall near the statue of Charles Darwin on the main stairs of the Central Hall. It will be unveiled by comedian and natural historian Bill Bailey at the launch of the Museum's Wallace100 events programme on the evening of 24 January, to go on public view from the 25th for about a year.

NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_004283_IA.jpgThe Museum's portrait of Wallace that will be on public view in the Central Hall from 25 January
© The Natural History Museum, London

 

History of the painting

 

Soon after Wallace's death in November 1913 a Memorial Committee was set-up with the purpose of raising money to commission three memorials to him: a marble medallion with a carved side profile of his head for Westminster Abbey; a painting of him; and statue of him for the Museum. However, because of the First World War, which began only 8 months after Wallace died, the fundraising campaign had to be cut short and only the medallion and the portrait were actually produced. The last was presented to the Museum by the artist Mr J. W. Beaufort who did not charge the Memorial Committee for his work.

 

The portrait was unveiled by Sir Charles Sherrington, President of the Royal Society, on 23 June 1923 during the 100th anniversary year of Wallace's birth. The following quotes are from the speech he gave (as recorded by The Times):

 

"The portrait that has a fitting place within the walls of this building in memory of Alfred Russel Wallace will be cherished for many reasons here. To those great collections for which this building is the house and the shrine he contributed generously and largely. Much of the fruit that he gathered in his expeditions in the Malay Archipelago enriches the galleries here. But he did even more for this collection and for all collections of natural history throughout the world by contributing a renowned and fertile idea [i.e. evolution by natural selection] which has lent and lends them a further significance and a new meaning. He contributed an interpretation which forms a guiding thread to a great deal of the study which such collections as this render possible...."

 

"I suppose that that happy circumstance of the juxtaposition of the portrait that we see there and of the statue [of Darwin] by which we are standing represents in collocation the commemoration of two men of whom it may be said, perhaps, that never a day passes but their two names rise to the memories of the director and the distinguished staff who are with him to study and to help others to study these collections."

 

The portrait was hung on the wall above and to the right of the Museum's statue of Charles Darwin on the stairs of the Central Hall and it remained in this position for almost 50 years (it was moved in 1971). From 2009 to 2012 it was on public display in the Historical Collections Room of the Darwin Centre Cocoon in the Museum's Orange Zone.

WallacePortraitInPositionIn1930.small.jpgPicture showing the Wallace painting in the Central Hall in c. 1930, from an Illustrated Guide to the Exhibition Galleries published in 1931. Note that the statue in the centre at this time is Richard Owen, not Darwin. The statue of Darwin was moved from this prime spot in September 1927 and Owen remained there until 2009, when the Darwin statue was moved back for Darwin200.

 

The artist

 

The only information mentioned about the artist of the portrait is that his name was Mr J. W. Beaufort. I believe that he was probably the professional photographer Mr John William Beaufort, who was born in 1864 and died in Guildford in 1943. There are several reasons for reaching this conclusion.

 

First, there do not appear to be any professional artists named J. W. Beaufort who were active at around this time. Second, the painting is based on a photograph of Wallace taken in 1903 by the famous photography firm Elliott & Fry, and John William Beaufort happened to be the manager of this firm from 1915 until 1926.

 

Another thing that supports this theory is that photographic firms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries used to produce oil paintings for clients based on photographs, by photographically printing the image onto sensitised canvas and then painting over it. It would be interesting to know whether or not the Museum's portrait was produced in this way.

 

NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_004283_IA.jpgWallace photo. Copyright English Heritage
Beaufort's painting
© The Natural History Museum, London

 

Wallace photographed by Elliott & Fry in 1903.
© English Heritage
0

Happy Wallace Year 2013 - Welcome to Wallace100!w100_black.SMALL.jpg

 

Museum Wallace News

 

  • The 8th of this month sees Wallace's 190th birthday and on the 24 January the Museum will launch its Wallace100 events programme at an invitation-only evening function. During the event the Wallace Correspondence Project's digital archive of Wallace's correspondence, Wallace Letters Online, will be officially launched by comedian and natural historian Bill Bailey.

    Bill will also unveil a magnificent oil painting of Wallace which will hang on the wall to the right of the Darwin statue on the main stairs of the Museum's Central Hall. This portrait was actually donated to the Museum in 1923 to commemorate Wallace's 100th birthday, and it hung in that exact location for 50 years until it was put into storage.
  • The first public Wallace100 event of the year will take place on the 25 January. It will be a Nature Live talk by myself and Caroline Catchpole about the Museum's unrivalled archive of Wallace's manuscripts.
  • The next of the Museum's Wallace100 events will be a public lecture by the well-known geneticist and science writer Steve Jones on the 7 February. His talk is entitled "Wallace and the Joy of Sects: Rewriting the Bible as a scientific text"  and, although it is free, you will need to book a ticket to attend. Steve's talk is the first of 10 monthly talks in the Museum's Wallace100 Lecture Series.
  • The campaign to raise funds for a life-size bronze statue of Wallace for the Museum unfortunately has to close at the end of this month. So far about £19,000 has been contributed by about 45 generous donors, which is enough to commission a twice-life-size portrait bust of Wallace *IF* the campaign fails to reach its £50,000 target. So, please consider donating (any sum large or small) and entering the Free Prize Draw

 

Other News

 

  • Richard Dawkins suggests we should celebrate Wallace's birth in the same way that we celebrate Christmas.
  • The Biological Journal of the Linnean Society has a FREE 'virtual' issue dedicated to Wallace - very appropriate given that the seminal paper by Darwin and Wallace on evolution by natural selection was published by the Society in 1858.
And Finally ...

 

0

Press release: Natural History Museum marks centenary of Alfred Russel Wallace

DATE POSTED: 12 December 2012

 

w100_orange.SMALL.jpg

The beauty and brilliancy of this insect are indescribable, and none but a naturalist can understand the intense excitement I experienced when I at length captured it. On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious wings, my heart began to beat violently, the blood rushed to my head, and I felt much more like fainting than I have done when in apprehension of immediate death.


Alfred Russel Wallace’s reaction to capturing a new butterfly in Indonesia in 1859.

 

Next year marks 100 years since the death of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), the often overlooked co-discoverer of the process of evolution by natural selection. He and Charles Darwin published the scientific article that first proposed the theory in 1858, one year before Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species came out. As the home of the world’s largest collection of Wallace’s specimens and manuscripts, the Natural History Museum is launching a programme of events to mark this significant anniversary, Wallace100.

 

Wallace is considered by many to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. Not only did he independently discover natural selection, but he founded evolutionary biogeography (the study of the geographical distribution of plants and animals) and made many significant contributions to subjects as diverse as anthropology and epidemiology. He was also an intrepid traveller and an avid collector of natural history specimens, sending back many thousands of species new to science to the UK for further study.

 

Wallace100 launches on 24 January 2013 with comedian and naturalist Bill Bailey unveiling an impressive portrait of Wallace in the Museum’s iconic Central Hall, near the famous statue of Darwin. Over the summer, families can follow a Wallace Discovery Trail around the Museum to see some of Wallace’s most important specimens, and also take part in lively, interactive Nature Live talks about Wallace in the Attenborough Studio. For adults, there will be monthly lectures about Wallace’s life and work by leading biologists and historians. The lecture series opens on 7 February 2013, with Professor Steve Jones, world-renowned geneticist from UCL, and builds towards a landmark lecture on 7 November 2013, the anniversary of Wallace’s death. There will be live videoconferencing for schools as part of Wallace100, and the Museum’s website will offer a range of new information and resources, including access to Wallace’s letters, beautiful images from his collections, features on Wallace’s life and importance as a scientist, and a blog by the Museum’s Wallace expert Dr George Beccaloni.

 

Dr George Beccaloni, curator at the Natural History Museum and expert on Wallace says, ‘This anniversary is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Wallace’s ground-breaking scientific work, his valuable collections which are still being studied today, and his amazing adventures in South America and southeast Asia in search of the process responsible for generating the astonishing diversity of life on Earth. Wallace’s remarkable accomplishments are not as appreciated today as they were in his own lifetime, and are often overshadowed by Darwin’s. The events being organised by the Natural History Museum and other organisations in the UK and abroad as part of the Wallace100 celebrations will help to bring him out of Darwin’s shadow.’

 

Further information about Wallace100 is available from www.nhm.ac.uk/wallace100

0

Evolution by natural selection has been called "...arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind" yet only one of its co-discoverers, Charles Darwin, is honoured by a statue in the Natural History Museum. The other, Alfred Russel Wallace, has no statue in this museum or indeed anywhere else in the world, a sad fact that the Wallace Memorial Fund would like to change.

 

About 2 months ago the Fund launched a campaign to raise the money needed for a life-size bronze statue of Wallace for the Museum, which if all goes to plan, will be unveiled on the 100th anniversary of his death, 7 November 2013. Unfortunately, fundraising has been slow and £38,000 remains to be found by the impending deadline of 31 January 2013.

 

In an attempt to publicise the campaign and boost donations the Wallace Fund has just launched a free prize draw with the following fantastic prizes:

 

  • A pair of tickets to attend a very special event at the Natural History Museum on Thursday the 7 November 2013 - the 100th anniversary of Wallace's death. Details of this event have not been finalised, but it is very likely that there will be a lecture by Sir David Attenborough at the start of the event. Bill Bailey should be attending the event and he and/or Sir David will unveil the Wallace statue - that is if sufficient money has been raised to commission it! Tickets to the lecture will be in short supply and the VIP event afterwards will be by invitation only.
  • An exclusive leather-bound copy of the hand-printed book The Letter from Ternate by Tim Preston which is due to be published in Spring 2013. Only 100 individually numbered copies of this book will be produced and the standard copies will be cloth-bound.
  • A pack of assorted Bill Bailey merchandise - some/all will be signed by Bill himself.
  • A signed copy of the hardback edition of the book Natural Selection and Beyond edited by Charles Smith and George Beccaloni.

 

More details about the draw may be found on the Wallace Memorial Fund website.

Charles_Darwin_Statue,_Natural_History_Museum,_London (1).jpgThe Natural History Museum's magnificent statue of Darwin
Photo copyright Eluveitie/London
0

The Wallace Memorial Fund has today sent out the Press Release below, appealing for funds for a magnificent and unique life-size bronze statue to commemorate the 100th anniversary next year of Wallace's death (7 November 2013). You can help the campaign in various ways e.g. by posting the text and images below on relevant websites and blogs, or telling potential donors about the campaign. Your help (in whatever way) would be very much appreciated. Wouldn't it be great to see the statue and think that you helped to make it a reality!

 

 

Discoverer of Natural Selection to finally get his statue (albeit 100 years late)

Statue of Alfred Russel Wallace to be commissioned for the Natural History Museum, 100 years after the project was scuppered by the First World War.


Alfred Russel Wallace was one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century and when he passed away aged 90 in November 1913 plans were soon underway to commemorate his remarkable life. Fundraising began for a statue to be displayed at the Natural History Museum in London, but within a few months this was scuppered by the outbreak of the First World War and the project had to be abandoned.

 

One-hundred years on, the Wallace Memorial Fund has been revived and is attempting to raise £50,000 GBP to commission a life-sized bronze statue which it will donate to the Natural History Museum. It would be unveiled on 7th November 2013, to commemorate the centenary of Wallace's death. The piece would be sculpted by Anthony Smith; a zoology graduate-turned sculptor, who in 2009 created an acclaimed statue of Charles Darwin for Cambridge University.

 

The Wallace Fund has already received a generous donation of £10,000 GBP, but it needs to raise the remaining £40,000 GBP in just four months, in order to give the sculptor enough time to produce the work for the November 2013 unveiling.

 

British comedian Bill Bailey, the Wallace Memorial Fund's Patron, who is a long-time admirer of Wallace, appealed to everyone who loves natural history and science for donations. “Wallace was a maverick genius who deserves much greater recognition for his brilliant discoveries.” He continues, “The statue will be seen by many of the 4.5 million people who visit the museum each year and it will help raise awareness of this extraordinary man.”

 

BillBailey.jpg

Bill at the Natural History Museum, London, with a painting of Wallace and some of Wallace’s specimens. 
© Janet Beccaloni

 

The Natural History Museum is planning a big celebration of Wallace’s life and scientific legacy called Wallace100 which will be launched in January 2013. Wallace100 will culminate with the unveiling of the statue in November. Many other museums and other organisations worldwide are also planning Wallace events; with conferences in London, New York, Mexico, Gibraltar and Sarawak, Malaysia; museum exhibitions in London, Oxford, Wales, the Netherlands, Singapore and Australia; plus several books; and at least one TV documentary.

 

For more information about the statue, including details of how to donate, visit the Wallace Fund's website.


About Wallace:

 

ARW in 1869.jpgAlfred Russel Wallace in c. 1869 aged c. 46
© G. W. Beccaloni

 

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823 - 1913) was one of the 19th century's most remarkable intellectuals. Not only did he co-discover the process of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858, but he also made very many other significant contributions, not just to biology, but also to subjects as diverse as glaciology, land reform, anthropology, ethnography, epidemiology, and astrobiology.

 

His pioneering work on evolutionary biogeography (the study of how plants and animals are distributed) led to him becoming recognised as that subject’s ‘father’. Beyond this, Wallace is regarded as the pre-eminent collector and field biologist of tropical regions of the 19th century, and his book The Malay Archipelago (which was Joseph Conrad’s favourite bedside reading) is one of the most celebrated travel writings of that century and has never been out of print.

 

The bulk of his remarkable collection of more than 120,000 specimens of insects, birds and other animals which he made in South-East Asia between 1854 and 1862, including over 5,000 species which were new to science, is cared for by the Natural History Museum. Hundreds of animal species have been named after him, including the spectacular bird-of-paradise Wallace's Standardwing from the Maluku Islands, Indonesia, and the recently discovered gremlin-like Wallace’s tarsier from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia.

 

Whilst Darwin came from a very wealthy background, Wallace struggled to support his passion for natural history and had to fund his tropical expeditions by selling specimens to collectors back home (Darwin included).

 

By the time of his death Wallace was probably the world’s most famous scientist, but since then his intellectual legacy has been overshadowed by that of Darwin (who, of course, already has a statue at the Natural History Museum).

 

END

 

For more information please contact Dr George Beccaloni, Chairman of the Wallace Memorial Fund (Email: blaberus1@ntlworld.com or g.beccaloni@nhm.ac.uk).

0

Bill Bailey is currently on tour in the Antipodes. Check out this great blog post about Bill's recent behind-the-scenes visit to the Melbourne Museum. Blimey Cobber! They have some bonzer Wallace specimens there as well!

1

One of the many great things about travelling to the more remote parts of the World, is the opportunity to sample the local cuisine. One may argue that you need never leave London, because its wonderful multi-cultural way of life means that you can get a spicy Indian curry, a salsa-laden Mexican fajita and a rather humble cheese sandwich all in the same short stretch of road. But nothing beats actually being in the country of origin.

 

Wallace ate a great many weird-and-wonderful  things during his travels in the Malay Archipelago, and he often writes with great enthusiasm about his culinary experiences. Whilst in Sulawesi (Celebes) he was invited to the house of a chief. He writes: 

 

“The dinner was excellent. Fowls cooked in various ways, wild pig roasted, stewed and fried, a fricassee of bats, potatoes, rice and other vegetables, all served on good china, with finger glasses and fine napkins, and abundance of good claret and beer, seemed to me rather curious at the table of a native chief on the mountains of Celebes”.

 

All seems unremarkable in this description, until you spot the ‘fricassee of bats’! This is not something you would encounter in the suburbs of Merton, for sure.  Well - maybe you would encounter the ‘fricassee’ bit, which is chopped meat stewed in gravy. Clearly, I don’t come from a posh background, as I call stewed meat, stewed meat - not fricassee...

LocalSulawesiHouse.jpgThe local 'restaurant'

 

Of course, being a game type of chap, and wanting to experience as much as he could of Wallace’s travels, Bill Bailey accepted an offer to try this local ‘delicacy’. So we travelled up the road from the lodge where we were staying, to a traditional sturdily-built thatched wooden house. A small fire was constructed in the nicely-swept dirt backyard, and a spicy ‘gravy’ of coconut milk, spices and chillies was prepared in a large metal pot, before the unfortunate bat (which are sold in the local markets) was popped in. After being simmered for 20 minutes or so, the bat was ready.

 

Fricasse of bat final.JPG

Fricassee of bat being cooked

 

Bat is considered by the locals to taste very much like rat, but given that this flavor ‘benchmark’ is unfamiliar to most Europeans, one needed to sample the bat in person. Bill manfully ate a decent sized portion. Chewing on the wing membrane, Bill remarked that it was like eating a musty old umbrella - yum! Being one to try most things at least once, I decided to try the bat too. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it to be - it tasted very much like ostrich. However, given that this comparison might also be fairly useless, as not everyone has eaten that beast either, I will describe it as a cross between chicken (doesn’t everything taste of chicken?) and liver. I have to say that I was glad not to have to eat my way through the entire dish!

 

Bill eating bat final.JPG

Bill eating the fricassee

P.S.

 

The species of fruit bat which Bill ate is a common and geographically very widespread one. For a recent article on the ethics of eating such things see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/18/can-rat-on-menu-why-not

1 2 Previous Next