Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP2166

Sent by:
Edwin Birchall
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
8 December 1879

Sent by Edwin Birchall, 64 Derby Square, Douglas, Isle of Man to Alfred Russel Wallace [none given] on 8 December 1879.

Record created:
30 November 2011 by Mayer, Anna


No summary available at this time.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP2166.2056)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
British Library, The
Finding number:
BL Add. 46436 ff. 70-71
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Edwin Birchall Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




64 Derby Square

Douglas Isle of Man

Dec[ember] 8 1879

Dear Sir

Excuse delay in replying to your letter of Nov[ember] 20 more Especially because I fear I have little or no information to send you -- I send however a few specimens illustrative of the most marked varieties of Lepidoptera I have met with in the island.

Looking at them as a whole I think they are characterized by darker colour [[2]] ation than those of the South of England -- as are those of Scotland & Ireland -- but the differences are not [as] striking as many. It has sometimes [been] fancied there was a tendency to narrower wings -- for instance in our Diantheca[?] Cusia[?] compared with the continental form -- our Tephronia Censenaria[?] compared with the English -- but the bulk of species await to be distinguished, and perhaps you are to blam[e] for leading us to look for something of the soil -- in question [.] Lepidoptera are scarce both in species & [[3]]2 individuals, Except after rock species we have no woods, bogs or heaths -- the mountains produce little besides coarse grass.

Only 163 Butterflies have been seen in the island viz[.] Brassica4 -- Rapie. [sic]15 Napi6. Edusa7 Cardamines8 Aglaja [?]9 Urticae10 Io11 Atalanta12 Cardui13 Megera14 Semele15 Jurtina[?]16 Pamphilus17 Phlaeas18. Alexis19. -- a remnant surely of the original stock.

I am much pleased to hear that you are going to deal with the subject of Insular Variation[.] A short note of mine in the EMM20 Vol 13. p130 [7 words illeg. struck through] which I hoped would have led to [[4]] a wider discussion than was the case. You have probably seen --

I have not noticed any variation in the size of the Lepidoptera Except the curious one of Vanessa Urticae10. This certainly seems very small, but not always quite so small as those sent -- but I never21 see any21 approaching21 the size of an ordinary English Example.

Atalanta12 which is Even more abundant is of the ordinary size.

Yours very truly | Edith Birchall [signature]22

Don[’]t return Either box or insect if of any use --

Alfred R Wallace Esq


1. Page numbered 70 in pencil in top RH corner.

2. Page numbered 71 in pencil in top RH corner.

3. Number corrected from 17.

4. Pieris brassicae (Large white)

5. Pieris rapae (Small white)

6. Pieris napi (Green-veined white)

7. Pontia edusa (Eastern Bath white)

8. Anthocharis cardamines (Orange tip)

9. Argynnis aglaja (Dark green fritillary)

10. Vanessa urticae (Small tortoiseshell)

11. Inachis io (Peacock)

12. Vanessa atalanta (Red admiral)

13. Cynthia cardui (Painted lady)

14. Lasiommata megera (Wall)

15. Hipparchia semele (Grayling)

16. Maniola jurtina (Meadow brown)

17. Coenonympha pamphilus (Small heath)

18. Lycaena phlaeas (Small copper)

19. Glaucopsyche alexis (Green-underside blue)

20. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (first published in 1864)

21. These words are underlined in pencil. Double vertical lines in pencil in the LH margin draw attention to the words “small, but not always quite so small as those sent -- but I never see any approaching the size of an ordinary English Example.”

22. Lepidopterist living on the Isle of Man. No information.

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.