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Record number: WCP5033

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Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Edvard Alexander Westermarck
3 May 1891

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Edvard Alexander Westermarck [none given] on 3 May 1891.

Record created:
06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Wikman, Karl Robert Villehad. (1940). Letters From Edward B. Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace to Edward Westermarck; Ed. With Introductory Remarks Concerning the Publication of The History of Human Marriage. Abo. 1-22. [p. 18-19]

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[[1]]1 [p. 18]

May 3rd. 1891.

Dear Mr. Westermarck

I think it will be very injudicious to conclude your work with so comparatively unimportant a subject as The duration of Marriage. The book [[2]] [p. 19] is such a vast accumulation of facts, that few but professed Anthropological students will read it through. It is therefore very important to give in a concluding Chapter, a Summary of the facts and conclusions arrived at in the whole work. This will be the only popular part of the book, and such a Chapter is absolutely necessary in order that the Reviewers may give a reasonably fair account of your Work. It will be very easy for you to pass in review the various subjects you have treated, stating in each case your conclusions and how they differ from those of preceeding writers, and referring to the Chapters or pages where the facts are given on which your conclusion is founded. Such a Chapter will ensure good reviews, and in all probability double the sale of the book.

You might conclude with a few general philosophical reflexions on the bearing of the whole enquiry on the future of Marriage. You might perhaps be interested to read an article of mine in the »Fortnightly Review» of September 1890 which incidentally gives my ideas on that point.

I see that a french writer has just anticipated your work. I saw the advertisement the other day, but I forget where. No doubt you have heard of it. It might be as well to refer to it, either in the concluding Chapter or in the Preface.

Yours very truly

Alfred R. Wallace.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Nineth of fourteen letters from Wallace to Edward Westermarck, concerning the writing of the latter's The History of Human Marriage. These were included in the article "Letters From Edward B. Tylor and Alfred Russel Wallace to Edward Westermarck; Ed. With Introductory Remarks Concerning the Publication of The History of Human Marriage" by K. Rob. V. Wikman that appeared in 1940 as Acta Academiae Aboensis Humaniora XIII.7. The Wallace letters make up the second half of the work. Note that there are several apparent minor editing errors in the source material that I have not bothered to correct.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S712.htm

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