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Record number: WCP425

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Annie Wallace (née Mitten)
14 November 1886

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to Annie Wallace (née Mitten), [Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming] on 14 November 1886.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Re. lack of news from her; weather; good audiences at the four lectures so far given; portrait artist Mrs Noa; unexpected meeting with Mr and Mrs Mirlees visiting the site of their son's death with their daughter; Dr Holmes the "one-hoss-shay" man at dinner; meeting arranged with a lady spiritualist; any news of letting of house at Godlaming; requests Annie to send photos of ruined temples of Java given to Alfred Russel Wallace by Mr Woodbury, wants to compare with models and photos of similarly decorated Mexican temples at Cambridge (Massachusetts) museum; American museums the finest in the world; plans to go to Baltimore and Washington with a return to Boston in between; opinion of Alfred Russel Wallace's agent Mr Williams of earlier lecturer Mr Wood and his possible effect on Alfred Russel Wallace's potential audience; Harvard College celebration.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP425.425)

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

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/5/4
Copyright owner:
©A. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Boston, Nov[embe]r. 14th. (Sunday) 1886.

My dear Annie

It is now over 5 weeks since I left home & I have not had a line from any of you. I telegraphed to Hurst immediately on reaching New York thinking you would certainly be there, and have since written to you, to Willie, & to Violet. I suppose by your not writing that you waited for my letters to arrive & that you have not yet let the house. I am very well so far. The weather has been alternately wet and fine, like good English weather & yesterday for the first time some snow fell, but to day [sic] it is all gone & there is a brilliant sunshine. I have given four of my lectures & the audiences have been crowded & very attentive. The lantern lectures begin next Thursday. Last week I had a card left by Mr. Noa2 (I forget whether you knew him or Mrs. Noa3)[.] She is an artist & does beautiful portraits in coloured chalks & gets from £50 to £100 each for them -- life size.

On Friday I was reading or rather speaking a short4 [[2]]5 paper before the National Academy of Sciences which is meeting here when on coming back to my seat who should I find next [to] me but Mr. Mirlees! He & Mrs. Mirlees and their two daughters have come over to see the place where their son died & hear all about him. He was being educated at the Theological Institute here which is in the same building as that in which I give my lectures. They were staying at the Brunswick Hotel just opposite so I went over to lunch with them. Mrs. Mirlees looks as well and as smiling and as handsome as ever. Mr. Mirlees looks older & rather harrassed[?], & is much redder in the face. Mrs. Mirlees is very nice looking. They were obliged to hurry away on a visit in the country so I had only half an hour with them. Yesterday evening I met Dr. Holmes6 at dinner the "one-hoss-shay"7 man. He is totally amusing talking all the time except when he was asking me about Spiritualism wh[ich]. he seems inclined to believe. [[3]]8,9 I have met several spiritualists here & a wonderful lady medium who I am going to meet this evening. If you are at Godalming when this reaches you will you please look in the "Hortus Siccus"[?] cupboard in the Dining Room for the Photographs of the Java ruined temples which Mr. Woodbury10 gave me, and put them all up in strong paper and send them me by post marked -- "Photographs only" They will come I think for ½d. for 2 ounces , but you will see in the Postal Guide or they will tell you at the post Office. I want them to show the Professor at the Museum at Cambridge here where they have all the American Antiquities & models & photographs of all the wonderful Mexican temples, some of which I think have almost exactly the same style of ornaments. They have the finest Museums here in the world far superior in[?] arrangement and usefulness to any Museums in England

[[4]]11 I am going about a little to lecture next week, & at the end of the month I go to Baltimore for two weeks. Then I shall return here till the end of December to give a few lectures round about, and then probably go to Washington which every body[sic] says is the best place to stay the winter in.

My agent, Mr. Williams tells me, in confidence, that Mr. Wood has injured my chances very much, because he too was cued up as a "great English Naturalist" & the people were disgusted with him, both for the little that was in his lectures & his indistinct speaking -- so that they are afraid of having more lectures from "great English Naturalists"!!!

The Elections & the Harvard College Celebration with the President here have prevented the papers from giving such full notices of my lectures as they would have done, but they are all favourable, and I hope after a bit to get more engagements. Hoping that you and Violet & Willie are all quite well & that I shall have a letter with some news in a day or two[.]

Believe me | Your ever affectionate Husband | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]

Address always to the care of B. W. Williams, 258 Washington Street, Boston, U.S.A.12


1. There is a catalogue/reference number written in the top left-hand corner of the page. Its reads [WP1/5/4]. It is not in Wallace’s hand-writing.

2. Leopold Noa (b.1827). English born resident of Boston. Previously professor of modern languages at Washington University.

3. Jessie Noa (1825-1907). Artist specialising in pastels.

4. A previous, since expired, catalogue number is recorded at the bottom of the page, below the text. It reads [old Ref WP1/17/6].

5. Wallace has written the page number at the top of the page.

6. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894). American physician poet, professor, lecturer and author.

7. Wallace is referring to Holmes’ satirical poem "The Deacon’s Masterpiece or The Wonderful One-Hoss-Shay".

8. Wallace’s third page of correspondence is written on the reverse side of his first page. The page has also been turned on its side and the text written at right angles to that on the front of the sheet.

9. Wallace has written the page number at the top of the page.

10. Walter B. Woodbury (1834-1885). Inventor and pioneering English photographer, and one the earliest photographers of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).

11. The fourth page of correspondence is written on the reverse side of the second page. The page has also been turned on its side and the text written at right angles to that on the front of the sheet. Wallace has written the page number at the top of the page.

12. Wallace’s postscript regarding his address in the USA, is written in the left-hand margin of the page.

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