Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP4801

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Charles Algernon ("Algernon", "Ally") Wilson
24 December 1882

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming to Charles Algernon ("Algernon", "Ally") Wilson [none given] on 24 December 1882.

Record created:
24 October 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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LETTER (WCP4801.5193)

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

Held by:
John Greenell Wilson
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

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Transcription information




Frith Hill, Godalming

Dec[ember]. 24th. 1882

My dear Cousin,

Your letter of Oct[ober]. 18th has just come to hand, & in order not to leave you longer in suspense as to where I am I at once reply to it. By the time you receive this we shall have been here nearly two years, and I am quite sure I wrote to you as well as to all other foreign correspondents full two years ago (when my cottage was building) informing you of my future permanent address.

After my searches after a suitable house in a pretty country not too far removed from Railways & Schools & utterly failing to find anything tha[t] would do I hit upon this spot whe<re> [[2]] an old was living & found I could obtain 1/2 acre of ground on a hill suitable for a cottage & garden with pleasant views [&] trees around, & though the land was very dear as all land is even for building purposes I managed to buy the plot & have a very small & cheap cottage built on it. The attraction was the beautiful country round, -- the chalk hills from Guildford & Farnham in the north & the sandhills of Hindhead to the South with a wide extent of commons heaths and woods in almost every direction. Our hill which overlooks the little town of Godalming (on the direct Portsmouth line 32 miles from London) is mainly occupied by the Charterhouse school and masters' houses removed here from London about 14 yrs ago. [[3]] Many artists and retired officers live about here, & with [one word illegible] 30 Charterhouse masters afford plenty of good Society.

Almost six months ago I sent you a copy of my last work on Land Nationalisation1. Have you not received it? It is the [1 word illegible crossed out] subject I now devote myself to, having done my work in Science, & not feeling up to more work involving a continuous strain of mind or much visiting. I lecture occasionally on this land question and am President of a Society2 for the advocacy of our views. Last summer the Dublin University offered me the degree of L.L.D., which I did not like [[4]] to refuse although I am utterly indifferent to all such so-called honors. I sent you a carte taken directly after the ceremony, the gown being scarlet cloth faced with light lilac pink silk, so if your daughter likes to colour it she will know what to do. Last spring I gave a series round of lectures at the Potteries[?], Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin and Waterford. I also gave a set of four at Rugby School -- all on subjects treated in "Island Life." They very last thing I have written is an article on -- "The Debt of Science to Darwin"-- in the "Century Magazine"3 for Jan.[uary] 1883 which of course you can see in Adelaide. My chief occupation and amusement is my g[ar]den in which I am trying to grow the largest possible number of ornamental hardy[?] plants. I have already over a thousand specie, of which about 200 are shrubs, a tolerable number in 1/2 an acre which contains also house, lawn, shrubbery, and kitchen garden! My boy William4, aged 11, and Violet5 14 are quite well the latter a giantess taller than her mother! We have seen the comet very well here, & also had a good Aurora last night.

With best wishes | I remain | Your affectionate Cousin | Alfred R. Wallace [signature]


1. Wallace, AR; Land Nationalisation; Its Necessity and Its Aims, Being a Comparison of the System of Landlord and Tenant with that of Occupying in their Influence on the Well-being of the People, (London: Trubner, 1882).

2. The Land Nationalisation Society, founded in 1881. Wallace was its founding president, as seen here; the society advocated for the removal of land ownership from landlords to the state, as part of a Radical position.

3. The piece in question is effectively an academic obituary, describing (and celebrating) the late Darwin's work. Wallace, A. R. 1883. The debt of science to Darwin. Century magazine 25, 3 (January): 420-432.

4. William Wallace (1871-1951), Wallace’s son

5. Violet Wallace (1869-1945), Wallace’s daughter.

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