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Record number: WCP4299

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
William Thomas Stead
7 December 1911

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Old Orchard, Broadstone, Wimborne, Dorset to William Thomas Stead [none given] on 7 December 1911.

Record created:
26 June 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP4299.4424)

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

Held by:
Churchill Archives Centre
Finding number:
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Physical description

Transcription information




Old Orchard,



Dec[embe]r. 7th. 1911

My dear Mr. Stead

Carnegie's list of the 20 greatest men, is the most preposterous I have ever seen! I can only retain one of them. It would require much more thought & time, as well as more general & historical knowledge than I have at hand to give even an approximate estimate of the World’s 20 greatest men. If you print my rough estimate, please arrange them [[ 2]] either alphabetically or chronologically,—the latter would be the most instructive and it would certainly be best & most instructive to arrange all the lists your receive alike -- & in order of time, which any of your clerks can find out in an Encyclopaedia.

I dare say I should alter mine a good deal if I had more time to give to it. I take "greatness" to apply to character more than to any one or more striking [[3]] or useful discoveries which have often been made by very small & what a Yankee might call a "one-horse" man.

The great difficulty is that around any one supremely great man there is a cluster of others almost as great, who might almost monopolize the whole 20 -- as is the case of Socrates & Michael Angelo [sic].

I think my List fairly shows the different types of greatness. Scott, Dickens, & R. Owen, will be most objected to, but I could give very good reasons for [[4]] including each of them.

I shall be very glad to see you at any time. Is there any chance of getting Sir E[dward]. Gray1 [sic] to resign? I suppose Lord Morley would be the best in his place?

I had a visit from my old friend Prof[essor]. Barrett last week & much enjoyed it. He is advancing still, & doing good work for Spiritualist by clearing the ground.

Yours very truly | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. Sir Edward Grey (1862-1933). British politician. He served as Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916. He had received some criticism for his role in the Agadir Crisis which had started earlier in 1911. Viscount Grey of Fallodon from 1916 to his death.

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