Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP369

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell)
6 October 1858

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, [none given] to Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell) [none given] on 6 October 1858.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.
Verified by:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline (All except summary checked);


Re. the BM (Natural History); Alfred Russel Wallace's relationship with Gray; photography; proposed expedition to Batchian Island near Gilolo; encouraging letters from Hooker and Darwin, his essay read at the Linnean Society; sale by Stevens of collections from Aru; plans to return to England.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)
  • publication (2)

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LETTER (WCP369.369)

A transcription handwritten by other in English.

Extracts from a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to his mother in Mary Ann Wallace's hand.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/3/44
Copyright owner:
©A. R. Wallace Literary Estate
Record scrutiny:
21/08/2012 - Catchpole, Caroline;

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Physical description

Transcription information




Extracts from Mr. Alfred Wallaces letter dated Oct[obe]r 6 18581

"I was much amused with Fannys interview with Dr Gray and Prof[essor] Owen at the Museum. The latter is a delightfully pleasing and polite man, Dr Gray rather surly, but no doubt can be polite enough to Ladies -- He has been on bad terms with me -- because when in England I made some remarks about on the museum which he did not like, but since my recent collections he has bought of them[?] very liberally and has named one of my new animals after me which I look upon as an "olive-branch" of reconciliation. I fear the Museum is too gloomy for Thomas Sims to take any good views in.

I sh[oul]d take a copy of the Paradise birds when printed, but nothing I have [[2]] ever received yet has come in good condition, the delicate lights fade into white patches; I have just returned from a short trip, & am now about to start on a longer one, but to a place where there are some Soldiers, a Doctor & Engineers who speak English so if it is good for collecting I shall stay there some months. It is "Batchian" an island on the S[out]h side of "Gilolo[?]" about 3 or 4 days sails from Ternate. I am now quite recovered from my New Guinea voyage and am in good health.

I have received letters from Mr Darwin & Dr Hooker, two of the greatest most eminent Naturalists in England which has highly gratified me. I sent Mr Darwin an essay [[3]] on a subject in which he is now writing a great work. He shewed[sic] it to Dr Hooker & Mr Darwin Sir C[harles] Lyell, who thought so highly of it that they immediately read it before the "Linean Society"[.] This insures me the acquaintance and assistance of these eminent men on my return home.

Mr Stevens also tells me of the great success of the "Aru" Collection of which £1000 worth had been actually sold! This makes me hope I may soon realize enough to live upon and carry out my long cherished plans of a Country life in old England.

If I had sent the large & handsome shells from Aru which are what you expected to see, they would not have paid expenses, whereas the cigar box full of small ones [[4]] have sold for £50 -- you must not think I shall always do so well as at Aru -- perhaps never again because no other collections will have the novelty, all the neighbouring countries producing birds & Insects very similar, and many even the very same. [illegible.] of I have health I fear not to do very well, I feel little inclined now to go to California, as soon as I have finished my explorations of this region I shall be glad to return home as quickly and cheaply as possible. It will certainly be by way of the Cape or by 2nd class over land.

May I meet your dear old Mother and all my other relatives & friends in good health -- perhaps John & his Trio will have had the start[?] of me."


1. Transcript in an unknown hand, thought to be Wallaces mother, Mary Ann Wallace, of extracts from a letter to her.

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