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Introduction [To Folio Society edition of The Malay Archipelago]

  • The Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project


Wallace's extraordinary quest to understand how evolution works is not very well known. Many seem to think that he discovered natural selection by chance, but this is very far from the truth. My chapter charts the development of Wallace's ideas about evolution, from his early life in Neath in Wales (UK) where he first became interested in the subject, through his four year expedition to the Amazon (which ended with the destruction of his irreplaceable specimens and notes), to his epic eight year journey around the Malay Archipelago where he finally discovered the process which drives the evolution of life on planet Earth. The chapter gives an overview of Wallace's main accomplishments made during his Malay Archipelago trip, and explains how he came to publish his theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in 1858. The full reference to this chapter is: Beccaloni, G. W. 2017. Introduction. pp. xix-xliii. In: Wallace, A. R. The Malay Archipelago. UK: Folio Society. 665 pp.
Once in a generation, a Wallace may be found physically, mentally, and
morally qualied to wander unscathed through the tropical wilds of Amer-
ica and of Asia; to form magnicent collections as he wanders; and withal
to think out sagaciously the conclusions suested by his collections . . .
Thomas Henry Huxley, 
The Malay Archipelago is one of the most highly regarded scientic
travelogues of the nineteenth century, revered by generations of
biologists and armchair travellers for the same reasons as Charles
Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle and Henry Walter Bates’ The Natur-
alist on the River Amazons. It sparked David Attenborough’s love of
Birds of Paradise when he was nine years old and was Joseph Con-
rad’s ‘favourite bed-side book’, serving as a source of information
for several of his novels, especially Lord Jim. It was undoubtedly
Wallace’s most popular and nancially successful book, translated
into many dierent languages, ranging from Swedish to Japanese,
and never out of print since its rst appearance in .
Not only is The Malay Archipelago beautifully written, but it is
packed with original and interesting observations on the natural his-
tory and human inhabitants of this region, now divided into the
countries of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and East Timor. Wal-
lace described the eight years he spent there as ‘the central and
controlling incident of my life’, with good reason. During the trip
he not only amassed a magnicent collection of natural history spe-
cimens, but he also made several enduring contributions to science,
including independently discovering evolution by natural selection,
a theory he jointly published with Charles Darwin in , halfway
through his trip.
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Although Wallace (hereafter ARW) is not exactly a household
name these days, he was probably the most famous scientist in the
world when he died in  aged ninety, and expansive obituary
notices were published in newspapers and magazines worldwide.
One journalist observed that ‘only a great ruler could have been
accorded by the press of the world any such elaborate obituary rec-
ognition as was evoked by the death of Alfred Russel Wallace’.
So who was he and how did he come to discover what has been
described as ‘arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a
human mind’ (evolution by natural selection), plus a lot more
besides, whilst travelling in the Malay Archipelago?
ARW was born in Kensington Cottage near Usk, Monmouthshire,
England (now part of Wales), on  January  to Thomas Vere Wal-
lace and Mary Ann Wallace (née Greenell), a ‘downwardly mobile’
middle-class English couple, who had moved there from London a
few years earlier in order to reduce their living costs. ARW’s father
trained as a solicitor, but he had never practised and had been living
o inherited wealth which dwindled as his family grew.
ARW was the eighth of nine children, three of whom did not
survive to adulthood. His father was of Scottish descent (reputedly,
of a line leading back to the famous William Wallace); whilst the
Greenells were a respectable Hertford family. His great-grandfather
on his mother’s side was twice Mayor of Hertford (in  and ).
In , when ARW was ve, he and his family relocated to Hert-
ford and it was there, at Hale’s Grammar School, that he received his
only formal education. In about  ARW’s father was swindled out
of his remaining assets and the family fell on very hard times indeed.
Unable to aord the modest fees, ARW was forced to leave school
in March  aged fourteen and soon afterwards he moved to Bed-
fordshire to work with his eldest brother William. William was a
professional land-surveyor and ARW was to learn the trade. The
Wallace brothers would work together for the next six and a half
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 xxi
years, roaming all over the countryside of southern England and
Wales. In the autumn of  they moved to the Neath area of Wales
and it was there that ARW’s interest in natural history began to
develop. His interest started because he wanted to be able to name
the plants he saw in the countryside whilst out surveying. He bought
his rst books on how to identify them and also began to collect
examples, forming a collection of pressed specimens.
In late  a slump in surveying work forced William to let his
brother go. ARW applied for a position at the Collegiate School in
Leicester, and was hired to teach junior classes in drawing, survey-
ing, English and arithmetic. Leicester had a good library and there
he was able to study several important works on natural history,
science and travel, including, importantly, Thomas Malthus’s book
An Essay on the Principle of Population, which he greatly admired for
its ‘masterly summary of facts and logical induction to conclusions’.
It was probably in this library where he rst met amateur entomolo-
gist Henry Walter Bates, who soon got ARW passionate about col-
lecting beetles. ARW was amazed by ‘their many strange forms and
often beautiful markings or colouring’ and astonished that about a
thousand dierent species could be found within only ten miles of
the town.
In March  ARW’s brother William unexpectedly died from a
chest infection, so ARW quit his job and moved back to Neath with
his brother John in order to wind up William’s aairs and continue
his surveying business. However, he soon found that running the
business, even with the help of John, was unpleasantly onerous
because of responsibilities such as fee collection, which he hated.
Fortunately, he still had enough spare time to pursue his natural
history-related activities and also to keep up a correspondence with
his friend Bates.
In , ARW read Robert Chambers’s controversial book Vestiges of
the Natural History of Creation, which had been published anonymously
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the year before. It was a sensation at the time; Prince Albert
even read it aloud to the young Queen Victoria in the afternoons.
Vestiges convinced ARW of the reality of evolution (then called
transmutation) and in a letter to Bates dated  December  he
I have rather a more favourable opinion of the ‘Vestiges’ than you appear to
have – I do not consider it as a hasty generalisation, but rather as an ingenious
hypothesis strongly supported by some striking facts and analogies but which
remains to be proved by more facts & the additional light which future
researches may throw upon the subject – It at all events furnishes a subject for
every observer of nature to turn his attention to; every fact he observes must
make either for or against it, and it thus furnishes both an incitement to the
collection of facts & an object to which to apply them when collected.
The prevailing view at the time was that species had been individ-
ually created by God and transmutation was regarded as a heret -
ical idea. Serious naturalists dismissed Vestiges as junk, especially as
Chambers failed to provide a plausible theory which could explain
how transmutation occurred. This was a challenge, rather than a
deterrent to ARW, however.
In late /early , inspired by the book A Voyage Up the River
Amazon by William Henry Edwards, ARW suggested to Bates that
they travel to the Amazon to collect specimens of insects, birds and
other animals for their private collections, selling the duplicates
to collectors and museums in order to fund the trip. One of the
main aims of the expedition, at least as far as ARW was concerned,
was to seek evidence for evolution and try to understand how it
took place. In a letter to Bates written around this time he says, ‘I
begin to feel rather dissatised with a mere local collection – little is to be
learnt by it. I sh[oul]d like to take some one family, to study thoroughly
– principally with a view to the theory of the origin of species. By that
means I am strongly of [the] opinion that some denite results might be
arrived at.’
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 xxiii
Bates liked the idea and the two young men (ARW was twenty-
ve and Bates twenty-three) set o by ship from Liverpool to Pará
(Belém) on  April , arriving on  May. At rst they worked as
a team, but after a few months they quarrelled and split up to collect
in dierent areas. ARW centred his activities in the middle Amazon
and Rio Negro, journeying up the latter river and its tributary the
Uaupés, further than any other Westerner ever had before. Using
skills he had learnt when he was a surveyor, he produced the rst
detailed map of this mighty river system. It was published by Lon-
don’s Royal Geographical Society when he returned home, and
proved accurate enough to become the standard for many years.
By early  ARW was in poor health and he decided it was time
to return to England. Passing through Barra (Manaus), he found to
his dismay that the specimens he had collected during the past two
years, which he thought had already been shipped to England, had
been delayed by ocials because of concerns that the boxes might
contain contraband. After declaring their contents, he collected the
six large cases and set sail for Britain on the brig Helen on  July.
Trag ically, twenty-six days into the voyage, when the ship was in the
middle of the Atlantic, it caught re and sank. ARW’s precious speci-
mens, his collection of live animals and most of his eld notes were
incinerated. All he managed to rescue from his smoke-lled cabin was
a tin box containing a few shirts, his watch, some money, drawings he
had made of sh and palms, plus some notes and observations of the
Rio Negro and Uaupés. Very fortuitously, after ten days drifting on
the ocean in a pair of lifeboats, ARW and the crew were rescued by an
old leaky cargo ship making its way back to England. After a slow and
harrowing journey, during which they ran out of food and the ship
nearly sank, they landed at Deal in England on  October . Luckily,
ARW’s agent in London, Samuel Stevens, had had the foresight to
insure his collections for . ARW estimated they had been worth
, but it was certainly a lot better than nothing.
Although ARW made many interesting discoveries during his
four years in the Amazon Basin, he did not manage to solve the great
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‘mystery of mysteries’ of how evolutionary change takes place. In
the year following his return he worked furiously, writing several
scholarly articles and two books—one about Amazonian palms and
another about his travels, which he had to write largely from memory
given that most of his notes had been destroyed. He also published
an important article on Amazonian monkeys in which he observed
that big rivers were barriers to monkey species—one species being
conned to one side of a river, and a closely related species to the
other, even though the habitat on both sides appeared to be the same.
ARW thought this curious pattern could be explained by a combin-
ation of changes in the distributions of species over time, coupled
with evolutionary divergence. ARW’s ‘Riverine Barrier Hypothesis’
is still a topic of research today.
Shortly after returning to England ARW vowed never to travel by
sea again, but good resolutions soon fade, and seventeen months
later on  March , he left Britain on a collecting trip to the Malay
Archipelago. He knew that this region held great natural history
treasures, such as Birds of Paradise and Birdwing butteries, but that
its fauna was still relatively unknown and many new, interesting and
nancially valuable species remained to be found.
After wangling a rst-class ticket on P&O steamers from Lon-
don’s Royal Geographical Society, ARW arrived in Singapore on 
April together with a young assistant, Charles Allen. In the nearly
eight years ARW spent in the region he undertook sixty or seventy
separate journeys, visiting every important island in the Archipelago
at least once, and clocking-up about , miles of travel. During
his trip he collected and preserved an amazing total of nearly ,
animal specimens: about , insects, , shells, , bird skins,
and  mammals and reptiles. They ranged from Orangutans to
Birds of Paradise, from land snails to cockroaches, from Birdwing
butteries to tiny parasitic wasps. Remarkably, most of them arrived
in England in good condition, an impressive achievement consider-
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 xxv
ing the dicult conditions under which he was working, and the
complex logistics of shipping fragile specimens back from remote
wild corners of the Malay Archipelago.
ARW described a typical day of collecting in a letter to his mother
sent from Singapore in :
I will tell you how my day is now occupied. Get up at half past 5. Bath & coee. Sit
down to arrange & put away my insects of the day before, & set them safe out to
dry. Charles mending nets, lling pincushions & getting ready for the day.
Breakfast at 8. Out to the jungle at 9. We have to walk up a steep hill to get to it &
always arrive dripping with perspiration. Then we wander about till two or three
generally returning with about 50–60 beetles, some very rare & beautiful. Bathe,
change clothes & sit down to kill & pin insects. Charles do.[ditto] with ies[,]
bugs & wasps, I do not trust him yet with beetles. Dinner at 4. Then at work again
till six. Coee – Read – if very numerous work at insects till 8–9 then to bed.
In a letter sent from Ternate Island in  he sounded slightly
peeved that his agent Stevens perhaps didn’t realize just how hard he
was working:
You ask me if I go out to collect at night; certainly not, and I am pretty sure
nothing could be got by it: many insects certainly y at night, but that is the
reason why they are best caught in the day in their haunts, or else by being
attracted to a light in the house. Besides a man who works, with hardly half an
hour’s intermission, from 6 A.M. till 6 P.M., four or ve of the hottest hours
being spent entirely out of doors, is very glad to spend his evenings with a book
(if he has one) and a cup of coee, and be in bed soon after 8 o’clock. Night
work may be very well for amateurs, but not for the man who works twelve
hours every day at his collection.
He had lots of other irritations too: ‘ants, ies, dogs, rats, cats,
and, other vermin’ attacked and tried to eat his specimens at every
opportunity and he found his assistant Charles maddeningly careless
and untidy. In a letter to his sister he complained:
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Charles has now been with me more than a year & every day some such conver-
sation as this ensues – ‘Charles look at these butteries that you set at yesterday’
‘Yes sir’ ‘Look at that one, is it set out evenly’ ‘No Sir.’ ‘Put it right then & all
the others that want it’ In ve minutes he brings me the box to look at. ‘Have
you put them all right’ ‘Yes sir.’ – There’s one with the wings uneven. There’s
another with the body on one side – Then another with the pin crooked. Set
them all right this time. It most frequently happens that they have to go back a
third time. Then all is right. If he puts up a bird, the head is on one side, there is
a great lump of cotton on one side of the neck like a vein, the feet are twisted
soles uppermost or something else – In every thing it is the same what ought to
be straight is always put crooked. This after 12 months constant practice &
constant teaching! And not the slightest sign of improvement. I believe he never
will improve – Day after day I have to look over every thing he does & tell him
of the same faults. Another with a similar incapacity would drive me mad. He
never too by any chance puts any thing away after him. When done with, every
thing is thrown on the oor. Every other day an hour is lost looking for knife,
scissors, pliers, hammer, pins, or something he has mislaid. Yet out of doors he
does very well – he collects insects well, & if I could get a neat & orderly person
in the house I would keep him almost entirely at out of door work and at skin-
ning which he does also well but cannot put into shape.
Most of the time though, ARW was very upbeat, and his dry,
ironic sense of humor allowed him to see the amusing side of even
dangerous situations (see, for example, ‘playing at earthquakes’ in
Chapter XVII of this book).
One of the most productive collecting localities ARW found dur-
ing his trip was close to the Simunjan coal mines in Sarawak, Borneo,
and it was there that he notoriously shot and collected Orangutans.
Although his accounts of hunting these beautiful great apes may
seem inhumane and bloodthirsty to the modern reader, readers in
ARW’s time would have been thrilled rather than shocked by the
drama of the hunt. In contrast to his coolness in dispatching adult
Orangs, he became very attached to a baby he adopted from one of
the females he had shot. In the same letter to his sister quoted above,
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 xxvii
he cooed, ‘My baby is no common baby, and I may safely say, what so
many have said before with much less truth, “There never was such a baby
as my baby,” – and I am sure nobody ever had such a dear little duck of a
darling of a little brown hairy baby before!’ Sadly, despite ARW’s doting
attentions, it died after a few weeks, so being a level-headed busi-
nessman, he preserved its skin and skeleton and sold them to the
British Museum for. The remains of its mother fetched.
ARW kept about % of the specimens that he and his assistants
collected in the Malay Archipelago for his own collection, which by
the end of the trip amounted to , bird skins of about , spe-
cies, at least , beetles and butteries of about , species,
plus some vertebrates and land-shells. When he returned to England
he used these to gain insights into evolutionary and biogeographic
processes, and published  scientic articles in which he named and
described  new species:  butteries,  beetles and  birds.
At least , other new species were described in about  add-
itional publications by leading amateur and professional naturalists
based on specimens from ARW’s private collection and the ‘dupli-
cates’ his agent Samuel Stevens had sold to museums and private
ARW’s best-known zoological discoveries from the trip are per-
haps Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing Buttery (Trogonoptera brookiana)
from Borneo, Wallace’s Golden Birdwing Buttery (Ornithoptera
crœsus) from Bacan Island and Wallace’s Standard-Wing Bird of Para-
dise (Semioptera wallacei) from the same island. He also discovered
the world’s rst gliding frog (Wallace’s Flying Frog, Rhacophorus
nigropalmatus) in Borneo, and the world’s largest bee (Wallace’s
Giant Bee, Chalicodoma pluto), on Bacan Island. He collected a total of
 new bird species (naming about half of them himself), so given
that around , bird species are known, this means that he was
responsible for discovering % of the entire world bird fauna. Not
only that, but he was the rst Westerner to observe and document
the spectacular mating displays (leks) of male Birds of Paradise, and
he was also probably the rst European to eat one.
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We now come to the rst of the three most important scientic
discoveries made by ARW during his expedition. In February 
whilst staying in a tiny rest house owned by his friend the ruler of
Sarawak, Rajah James Brooke, ARW wrote what was to become
probably the most important scholarly article on evolution pub-
lished by anyone prior to the discovery of natural selection. In his
autobiography he relates that it:
was written during the wet season, while I was staying in a little house at the
mouth of the Sarawak river, at the foot of the Santubong mountain. I was
quite alone, with one Malay boy as cook, and during the evenings and wet days
I had nothing to do but to look over my books and ponder over the problem
which was rarely absent from my thoughts. Having always been interested in
the geographical distribution of animals and plants . . . and having now myself
a vivid impression of the fundamental dierences between the Eastern and
Western tropics; and having also read through such books as Bonaparte’s ‘Con-
spectus,’ . . . giving a mass of facts as to the distribution of animals over the
whole world, it occurred to me that these facts had never been properly utilized
as indications of the way in which species had come into existence. The great
work of Lyell [i.e. Principles of Geology] had furnished me with the main fea-
ture of the succession of species in time, and by combining the two I thought
that some valuable conclusions might be reached. I accordingly put my facts
and ideas on paper, and the result seeming to me to be of some importance, I
sent it to The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, in which it appeared
in the following September (1855). Its title was ‘On the Law which has regulated
the Introduction of New Species,’ which law was briey stated . . . as follows:
‘Every species has come into existence coincident both in time and space with a
pre-existing closely-allied species.’ This clearly pointed to some kind of evolu-
tion. It suested the when and the where of its occurrence, and that it could
only be through natural generation, as was also suested in the ‘Vestiges’; but
the how was still a secret only penetrated some years later.
That ARW’s argument was an evolutionary one is evident
from, amongst other things, the branching ‘tree of life’ analogy
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 xxix
that he used. He describes the anities (genealogical relationships)
between species as being ‘as intricate as the twigs of a gnarled oak
or the vascular system of the human body’ with ‘the stem and main
branches being represented by extinct species’ and the ‘vast mass
of limbs and boughs and minute twigs and scattered leaves’ living
The essay ended with the following grand conclusion:
It has now been shown, though most briey and imperfectly, how the law that
‘Every species has come into existence coincident both in time and space with a
pre-existing closely allied species,’ connects together and renders intelligible a
vast number of independent and hitherto unexplained facts. The natural sys-
tem of arrangement of organic beings, their geographical distribution, their
geological sequence, the phænomena of representative and substituted groups
in all their modications, and the most singular peculiarities of anatomical
structure, are all explained and illustrated by it, in perfect accordance with the
vast mass of facts which the researches of modern naturalists have brought
together, and, it is believed, not materially opposed to any of them. It also
claims a superiority over previous hypotheses, on the ground that it not merely
explains, but necessitates what exists. Granted the law, and many of the most
important facts in Nature could not have been otherwise, but are almost as
necessary deductions from it, as are the elliptic orbits of the planets from the
law of gravitation.
Disappointingly for ARW, the scientic importance of his
‘Sarawak Law’ essay was overlooked by most naturalists, including
his agent. ARW recounted that ‘Soon after this article appeared,
Mr. Stevens wrote me that he had heard several naturalists express
regret that I was “theorizing,” when what we had to do was to col-
lect more facts.’ But there was better news not long afterwards: ‘I
had in a letter to Darwin expressed surprise that no notice appeared
to have been taken of my paper, to which he replied that both Sir
Charles Lyell and Mr. Edward Blyth, two very good men, specially
called his attention to it.’ ARW had begun corresponding with
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Darwin in  after Darwin sent a request for specimens of unusual
foreign domesticated animals via ARW’s agent.
The powerful evolutionary argument presented by ARW in his
article was obvious to the eminent geologist Charles Lyell. Lyell (an
anti-transmutationist at that time) was so struck by it that in Novem-
ber , soon after reading it, he was moved to initiate what grew
into a series of seven notebooks on the species question. Notes on
ARW’s essay ll the rst pages of the rst of these notebooks:
Of innumerable ways in which Omnipotence might t a new species to all the
present and future conditions of its existence, there may be one which is prefer-
able to all others, and if so this will cause the new species to be in all probability
allied to preexisting and extinct or with many coexisting species of the same
In a related notebook Lyell noted that ARW’s article ‘goes far
toward Lamarck’s doctrine [of transmutation]’.
In April , Lyell visited Charles Darwin at his home in Kent,
and Darwin conded to him that for the past twenty years he had
been secretly working on a theory that explained how evolutionary
change takes place (natural selection). Not long afterwards, Lyell
sent Darwin a letter urging him to publish (probably because he
was concerned that someone like ARW would beat him to it), so in
May , Darwin, heeding this advice, began to write a ‘sketch’ of
his ideas for publication. Finding this unsatisfactory Darwin aban-
doned it in about October  and instead began working on an
extensive book on the subject.
In May , about a year after he wrote his ‘Sarawak Law’ essay,
ARW took a boat from Singapore to Lombok via Bali. On Bali, he
found similar species of birds to the other islands he had visited to
the west, including a weaver, a woodpecker, a thrush, a starling. But
then, ‘crossing over to Lombock, separated from Bali by a strait less
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 xxxi
than twenty miles wide, I naturally expected to meet with some of
these birds again; but during a stay there of three months I never saw
one of them’. Instead, ARW found a completely dierent assort-
ment: white cockatoos, honey-suckers, a loud bird the locals called a
‘Quaich-quaich’ and the peculiar megapode, which uses its big feet
to build huge mounds of warm rotting vegetation in which it buries
its eggs to incubate them. None of these groups were known from
the western islands of Java, Sumatra, or Borneo.
ARW described this puzzling biogeographic anomaly in a letter
to his agent Stevens in August :
The Islands of Baly & Lombock . . . though of nearly the same size, of the
same soil[,] aspect[,] elevation & climate and within sight of each other, yet
dier considerably in their productions, and in fact belong to two quite distinct
Zoological provinces, of which they form the extreme limits. As an instance
I may mention the Cockatoos, a group of birds conned to Australia & the
Moluccas, but quite unknown in Java[,] Borneo[,] Sumatra & Malacca. One
species however . . . is abundant in Lombock, but is unknown in Baly, the
island of Lombock forming the extreme western limit of its range & that of the
whole family. Many other species illustrate the same fact.
The dierences in mammals among the western and eastern
islands was just as striking. On the large western islands there were
monkeys and tigers. But in Australia and adjacent islands there were
no primates or cats. Nearly all the native mammals were marsupials
—kangaroos, cuscus, and their relatives.
That line between Bali and Lombok signied something very
profound to ARW. In his  article, ‘On the natural history of the
Aru Islands’, he explained that under the doctrine of ‘centres of
creation’ (repeated creation of sets of animals in newly formed habi-
tats by God), to which naturalists such as Charles Lyell adhered, one
would expect to nd similar animals in countries with similar cli-
mates, and dissimilar animals in countries with dissimilar climates.
However, this is not at all what he found. For example, in comparing
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 31 24/06/2016 17:44
Borneo (to the west) and New Guinea (to the east), he observed that
‘it would be dicult to point out two . . . [islands] . . . more exactly
resembling each other in climate and physical features’. But their
birds and mammals were entirely dierent.
ARW reasoned further that ‘some other law has regulated the
distribution of existing species.’ That law, he suggested, was the ‘Sar-
awak Law’ he had proposed two years earlier. Again ARW relied on
geology to make his case. He surmised that New Guinea, Australia,
and the Aru Islands (o New Guinea) were connected at some time
in the relatively recent past (there is a shallow sea between them) and
so have similar species of birds and mammals. However, the seas
between them and the western islands of Borneo, Java, etc. are
much deeper, meaning that they and the eastern islands were never
physically connected.
ARW was correct. He had linked the question of the origin of
species to how species were distributed, and had dened a divid-
ing line between the fauna of Asia and Australasia. This discovery
(rened further in his  article ‘On the physical geography of the
Malay Archipelago’) would later be named the ‘Wallace Line’ by his
friend the famous biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (aka ‘Darwin’s
For ARW the question, then, was not if species evolve, but how? In
February  he was suering from an attack of fever (probably
malaria) in the village of Dodinga on the remote Indonesian island
of Halmahera, when suddenly the idea of natural selection as the
cause of evolutionary change occurred to him. At last he had discov-
ered the elusive mechanism for which he had been searching for ten
long years. In his book Natural Selection and Tropical Nature, he tells
the story of his epiphany:
After writing the preceding paper [i.e. the ‘Sarawak Law’] the question
of how changes of species could have been brought about was rarely out
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 xxxiii
of my mind, but no satisfactory conclusion was reached till February 1858. At
that time I was suering from a rather severe attack of intermittent fever . . .
and one day while lying on my bed during the cold t, wrapped in blankets,
though the thermometer was at 88ºF., the problem again presented itself to me,
and something led me to think of the ‘positive checks’ described by Malthus in
his ‘Essay on Population,’ a work I had read several years before, and which
had made a deep and permanent impression on my mind. These checks – war,
disease, famine and the like – must, it occurred to me, act on animals as well as
on man. Then I thought of the enormously rapid multiplication of animals,
causing these checks to be much more eective in them than in the case of man;
and while pondering vaguely on this fact there suddenly ashed upon me the
idea of the survival of the ttest – that the individuals removed by these checks
must be on the whole inferior to those that survived. In the two hours that elapsed
before my ague t was over I had thought out almost the whole of the theory, and
in the same evening I sketched the draft of my paper, and in the two succeeding
evenings wrote it out in full, and sent it by the next post to Mr. Darwin.
ARW decided to send his essay to Darwin, because he knew
from their correspondence that he was interested in the subject of
species transmutation—although he had no idea that Darwin had
already discovered the mechanism many years before. He asked
Darwin to pass his essay on to Lyell if Darwin thought it was su-
ciently interesting: perhaps hoping that Lyell would send back some
useful comments. ARW probably thought that Lyell (who he had
never been in contact with) would be interested to hear about his
new theory because it explained the evolutionary ‘law’ which ARW
had proposed in his  essay. Darwin had, of course, mentioned in
a letter to ARW that Lyell had found his ‘Sarawak Law’ article note-
worthy. Another likely reason why ARW wanted feedback from
Lyell was because his essay was written as an argument against the
anti-evolutionary views in Lyell’s book Principles of Geology.
ARW’s packet to Darwin containing his essay and a covering
letter, was posted from the small ‘Spice Island’ of Ternate o the
coast of Halmahera, in March or possibly April of , and it almost
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 33 24/06/2016 17:44
certainly arrived at Darwin’s house in Kent on  June . When
Darwin read the essay he was understandably horried and immedi-
ately scribbled an anguished letter to Lyell asking for advice on what
he should do. ‘I never saw a more striking coincidence. If Wallace had my
M.S. [manuscript] sketch written out in 1842 he could not have made a bet-
ter short abstract! . . . So all my originality, whatever it may amount to,
will be smashed.’32
Lyell acted quickly and discussed the matter with another of Dar-
win’s condants, botanist Joseph Hooker. Rather than attempting to
seek ARW’s permission, they decided to present his essay plus two
excerpts from Darwin’s writings on the subject (which had not been
written with publication in mind) to a meeting of the London’s Lin-
nean Society on  July . The public presentation of ARW’s essay
therefore took place just two weeks after its arrival in England.
Darwin and ARW’s article on natural selection* was published in
the Linnean Society’s journal in August that year under the title ‘On
the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of
varieties and species by natural means of selection’. Lyell and
Hooker placed Darwin’s contributions before ARW’s essay, empha -
sising Darwin’s priority to the idea. In their introduction to the
article they wrote that ‘both authors . . . [have] . . . unreservedly
placed their papers in our hands’, a statement which is patently
untrue, since ARW had mentioned nothing about publication in the
covering letter he had sent to Darwin., 
So, was ARW upset that his essay had been published without his
say-so and that Darwin had become an uninvited co-author? Appar-
ently not; in fact he seemed delighted. Delighted perhaps that his
ideas had at last been taken so seriously, and delighted to be public-
ally associated with Darwin and his illustrious friends. Replying to a
letter that Hooker had written to ARW in July  informing him of
the events at the Linnean, ARW graciously replied:
* See Appendix to this edition for Wallace’s portion of that article.
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 xxxv
Allow me in the rst place sincerely to thank yourself & Sir Charles Lyell for
your kind oces on this occasion, & to assure you of the gratication aorded
me both by the course you have pursued, & the favourable opinions of my essay
which you have so kindly expressed. I cannot but consider myself a favoured
party in this matter, because it has hitherto been too much the practice in cases
of this sort to impute all the merit to the rst discoverer of a new fact or a new
theory, & little or none to any other party who may, quite independently, have
arrived at the same result a few years or a few hours later.
. . . It would have caused me much pain & regret had Mr. Darwin’s excess
of generosity led him to make public my paper unaccompanied by his own
much earlier & I doubt not much more complete views on the same subject, & I
must again thank you for the course you have adopted, which while strictly just
to both parties, is so favourable to myself.
In a letter to his mother written at the same time he wrote:
I have received letters from Mr Darwin & Dr Hooker, two of the greatest most
eminent Naturalists in England which has highly gratied me. I sent Mr Dar-
win an essay on a subject in which he is now writing a great work. He shewed
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.
As a result of this perturbing episode Darwin halted work on his
big book on evolution and instead rushed to produce an ‘abstract’ of
what he had written so far. This was published fteen months later
in November  as On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selec-
tion. In a letter sent in November  he informed ARW:
I have told Murray [his publisher] to send you by Post (if possible) a copy of
my Book & I hope that you will receive it at nearly same time with this note.
(N.B. I have got a bad nger which makes me write extra badly –) If you are so
inclined, I sh[oul ]d very much like to hear your general impression of the Book
as you have thought so profoundly on [the] subject & in so nearly same channel
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with myself. I hope there will be some little new to you, but I fear not much.
Remember it is only an abstract & very much condensed. God knows what the
public will think. No one has read it, except Lyell, with whom I have had much
correspondence. Hooker thinks him a complete convert; but he does not seem so
in his letters to me; but he is evidently deeply interested in [the] subject. – I do
not think your share in the theory will be overlooked by the real judges as
Hooker Lyell, Asa Gray &c.
When ARW read Darwin’s book he was extremely impressed.
He told Darwin so in a letter, now lost, sent from Ambon Island in
February . Darwin responded, sounding relieved, in May :
I received this morning your letter from Amboyna dated Feb. 16th, containing
some remarks & your too high approbation of my book. Your letter has pleased
me very much, & I most completely agree with you on the parts which are
strongest & which are weakest. The imperfection of Geolog. Record is, as you
say, the weakest of all . . . Before telling you about progress of opinion on [the]
subject, you must let me say how I admire the generous manner in which
you speak of my Book: most persons would in your position have felt some envy
or jealousy. How nobly free you seem to be of this common failing of mankind.
– But you speak far too modestly of yourself; – you would, if you had had
my pleasure leisure done the work just as well, perhaps better, than I have
done it.
ARW was in awe of Darwin’s book, and read it ‘ or  times . . .
each time with increasing admiration’. In a letter to a friend in
September  he remarked that ‘Mr. Darwin has given the world
a new science & his name should in my opinion stand above that of every
philosopher of ancient or modern times. The force of admiration can no
further go!!!’  Quietly he shelved his plans to write his own book on
evolution, which he had been writing notes for since he was in Sara-
wak ve years previously. When he eventually did publish a (highly
acclaimed) book on the subject thirty years later he modestly entit-
led it Darwinism.
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 xxxvii
ARW’s discovery of natural selection occurred almost at the mid-
point of his travels in the Malay Archipelago. He was to remain there
four more years, and by the end of his trip (and for the rest of his life)
he was regarded as the greatest living authority on the region. In
homage to his immense contributions to the eld of evolutionary
biogeography (the study of how plants and animals are geographic-
ally distributed) the region east of Wallace’s Line and west of New
Guinea is known to biogeographers as ‘Wallacea’.
Curiously, ARW never mentions his role in the discovery of nat-
ural selection in The Malay Archipelago, despite it being the most
important discovery of the trip and, indeed, of his life. In fact on the
few occasions he mentions the theory, all credit is given to Darwin.
ARW arrived back in England on  March  bringing with him
two living male Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor) which he
had bought in Singapore for the zoo in London’s Regent’s Park.
The purchase of them by the Zoological Society had paid for his
rst-class P&O steamer ticket home.
The Malay Archipelago wasn’t published until seven years after his
return. In the preface to the book he explains why:
When I reached England in the spring of 1862, I found myself surrounded by a
room full of packing-cases, containing the collections that I had from time to
time sent home for my private use . . . A large proportion of these I had not seen
for years; and in my then weak state of health, the unpacking, sorting, and
arranging of such a mass of specimens occupied a long time.
I very soon decided, that until I had done something towards nam-
ing and describing the most important groups in my collection, and had
worked out some of the more interesting problems of variation and geo-
graphical distribution, of which I had had glimpses while collecting them,
I would not attempt to publish my travels. I could, indeed, at once have
printed my notes and journals, leaving all reference to questions of natural
history for a future work; but I felt that this would be as unsatisfactory to
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 37 24/06/2016 17:44
myself, as it would be disappointing to my friends, and uninstructive to the
The six [seven] years’ delay in publishing my travels thus enables me to give,
what I hope may be an interesting and instructive sketch of the main results yet
arrived at by the study of my collections; and as the countries I have to describe
are not much visited or written about, and their social and physical conditions
are not liable to rapid change, I believe and hope that my readers will gain much
more than they will lose, by not having read my book six years ago, and by this
time perhaps forgotten all about it.
The book was based to a large extent on the journals he had kept
during the trip, and much of the work on the text was done whilst
living at ‘Treeps’, his parents-in-law’s house in Hurstpierpoint, Sus-
sex, in  and .
He dedicated the book to Charles Darwin, who was attered,
remarking in a letter to ARW on  March :
I was delighted at receiving your Book this morning. Its whole appearance &
the illustrations, with which it is so profusely ornamented, are quite beauti-
ful . . . As for the Dedication, putting quite aside how far I deserve what you say, it
seems to me decidedly the best expressed dedication, which I have ever met.
Two weeks later Darwin wrote again, full of praise for the book:
I have nished y[ou]r book; it seems to me excellent, & at the same time most
pleasant to read. That you ever returned alive is wonderful after all y [ou]r risks
from illness & sea voyages, especially that most interesting one to Waigiou &
back. Of all the impressions which I have rec[eive]d from y[ou]r book the
strongest is that y[ou]r perseverance in the cause of science was heroic.
ARW spent the rest of his long life extending, defending and popu-
larising natural selection, in fact he and German biologist August
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 xxxix
Weismann were the two main proponents of the theory after Dar-
win’s death in  (by then most biologists accepted evolution, but
very few believed that natural selection was its primary driving
force). ARW wrote a total of  books and around  articles on
a wide variety of (sometimes highly controversial) topics, making
many important original contributions to a wide range of scientic
disciplines, including biology, geography, geology, anthropology
and even astrobiology. His pioneering work on evolutionary bio-
geography led to him becoming recognised as that subject’s founder.
ARW’s contributions to biology went far beyond merely co-
discovering the theory on which the modern science is based. Unlike
Darwin, he always rejected Lamarckism—the inheritance of charac-
teristics acquired during the life of a parent (for example the enlarged
biceps developed by a blacksmith over the course of his career). In
fact he was the rst natural selectionist to reject this awed theory
and he was therefore in fact, ironically, the rst neo-Darwinian.
ARW devised the rst modern denition of what a species is—a
slightly modied version of which would later become known as the
Biological Species Concept; in addition, he believed that speciation
typically occurs in allopatry or parapatry—when diverging popula-
tions are geographically separated or abutting. He also proposed
what is known as the Wallace Eect (also called Reinforcement) to
explain how natural selection against hybrids between incipient spe-
cies could contribute to reproductive isolation and hence speciation.
Darwin in contrast believed that speciation occurs largely as a result
of competition in sympatry (within the same habitat)—a theory he
called his Principle of Divergence. Given that it is now thought that
most speciation is a consequence of geographical isolation, ARW
was therefore more correct about the origin of species than Darwin
was! Interestingly, although many think of sexual selection as being
Darwin’s theory, ARW’s ‘good genes’ argument to explain the evolu-
tion of sexual characteristics (i.e. that females select males seen to
have genetic advantages that increase ospring quality) is regarded
by many scientists today as more plausible than Darwin’s belief that
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 39 24/06/2016 17:44
females choose mates on aesthetic grounds, simply because they are
more beautiful. ARW could never accept that ‘simple’ animals such
as butteries could have an appreciation of beauty. Even the concept
of warning colouration in animals (e.g. where caterpillars have
evolved conspicuous colours to advertise their toxicity to potential
predators) and the idea of the Great American Interchange (where
animals from South America moved into North America and vice
versa, when the two previously isolated continents were joined
together by the formation of the Isthmus of Panama about three
million years ago) were originally conceived by ARW.
By the turn of the nineteenth century ARW was very prob-
ably Britain’s best known naturalist and by the end of his life, he was
probably one of the world’s most famous people. Honours awarded
for his many important contributions to science include: the Gold
Medal of the Société de Géographie, France; the Founder’s Medal of
the Royal Geographical Society; the Darwin–Wallace and Linnean
Gold Medals of the Linnean Society; the Copley, Darwin and Royal
Medals of the Royal Society (Britain’s premier scientic society); and
the Order of Merit—the greatest honour that can be given to a civil-
ian by the ruling British monarch.
ARW remained active into his ninety-rst year but slowly weak-
ened in his nal months. He died in his sleep at Broadstone on
 November , and three days later he was buried in a public ceme-
tery nearby. On  November  a marble medallion bearing his por-
trait was placed on the wall of London’s Westminster Abbey, beside
the memorial to his esteemed friend and colleague, Charles Darwin.
  
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 40 24/06/2016 17:44
. Huxley, T. H. . Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature. New York:
Appleton & Co. p. .
. Film: Attenborough in Paradise, BBC, .
. Raby, P. . ‘The “nest buttery in the world?”: Wallace and his
literary legacy’. In: Smith, C. H., & Beccaloni, G. (eds). Natural
Selection and Beyond: the Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. –.
. Wallace, A. R. . My Life. Vol. . London: Chapman and Hall. p. .
. Smith, C. H. . Wallace obituaries.
. Anon. . Passing of one of the supreme gures in modern science.
Current Opinion (New York), (): –.
. Dawkins, R. . ‘Inferior design’. The New York Times ( July ).
. Wallace, A. R. . My Life. Vol. . London: Chapman and Hall. p. .
. Wallace, A. R. . My Life. Vol. . London: Chapman and Hall.
p. .
. Secord, J. A. . Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication,
Reception, and Secret Authorship of ‘Vestiges of the Natural History of
Creation’. Chicago & London: Uni. of Chicago Press. p. .
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Henry Walter Bates,  Dec-
ember , WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online: http://www.
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Henry Walter Bates,  Octo-
ber , WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Richard Spruce to William Jackson Hooker,  August
, WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Mary Ann Wallace,  May
, WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Wallace, A. R. . Extracts from a letter of Mr. A. R. Wallace to
Mr. S. Stevens. Zoologist, (–): –.
. Wallace, A. R. . The Malay Archipelago. Vol. . London: Macmil-
lan & Co. p. .
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. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Francis Sims,  June ,
WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Wallace, A. R. Insect, Bird and Mammal Register, –, WCP
.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Wallace, A. R. . ‘Descriptions of new birds from the Malay
Archipelago’. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., : –.
. Wallace, A. R. . Letter and postscript [to Samuel Stevens con-
cerning collecting ; dated  March , Dobbo, Aru Islands, and
 May, Dobbo]. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Lond., –. p. .
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pp. –.
. Wallace, A. R. . ‘On the law which has regulated the introduc-
tion of new species’. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist.,  (nd s.): –.
. Wallace, A. R. . My Life. Vol. . London: Chapman and Hall.
p. .
. Wilson, L. G. . Sir Charles Lyell’s Scientic Journals on the Species
Question. New Haven, USA: Yale Uni. Press. p. .
. Wilson, L. G. . Sir Charles Lyell’s Scientic Journals on the Species
Question. New Haven, USA: Yale Uni. Press. p. .
. Letter from Charles Lyell to Charles Darwin, – May . DCP
letter no. ; see Darwin Correspondence Database: https://www.
. Wallace, A. R. . The Malay Archipelago. Vol. . London: Macmil-
lan & Co. p. .
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Samuel Stevens,  August
, WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Wallace, A. R. . ‘On the Natural History of the Aru Islands.’
Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Suppl. to vol.  (nd s.): –.
. Wallace, A. R. . ‘On the physical geography of the Malay Archi-
pelago’. J. Roy. Geogr. Soc., : –.
. Wallace, A. R. . Natural Selection and Tropical Nature. London:
Macmillan & Co. p. 
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell,  [ June ]. DCP
letter no. ; see Darwin Correspondence Database.
APL_vol 1 pre.indd 42 24/06/2016 17:44
 xliii
. Darwin, C. R., & Wallace, A. R. . ‘On the tendency of species to
form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by
natural means of selection’. J. Proc. Linn. Soc.: Zool., (): –.
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, [th June ]. DCP
letter no. ; see Darwin Correspondence Database.
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Joseph Dalton Hooker,
 October . WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Alfred Russel Wallace to Mary Ann Wallace,  October
. WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace,  November
, WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace,  May ,
WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letters from Alfred Russel Wallace to George Silk,  September
 &  January . WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Costa, J. T. (ed.). . On the Organic Law of Change: A Facsimile Edi-
tion and Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace’s Species
Notebook of 1855–1859. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press.
. Raby, P. . Alfred Russel Wallace, A Life. London: Chatto & Win-
dus. pp. –.
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace,  March ,
WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Letter from Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace,  March
, WCP.; see Wallace Letters Online.
. Beccaloni, G. . On the terms ‘Darwinism’ and ‘Neo-Darwinism’.
. Beccaloni, G. . Study of monkey facial evolution supports Wal-
lace’s neglected theory of ‘recognition marks’. http://wallacefund.
. Smith, C. H. . Alfred Russel Wallace notes : Just how well
known was Wallace in his own time? The Linnean, (): –.
. Beccaloni, G. . Honours Wallace received. http://wallacefund.
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Chronology of Wallace’s Travels
in the Malay Archipelago
As noted in the preface to his book, Wallace arranged the account of
his travels around the Malay Archipelago roughly biogeographically
rather than chronologically. His route around the region was convo-
luted to say the least, and he felt that his readers would be confused
by a chronological arrangement.
The list below is an attempt to reconstruct his journey chrono-
logically, with dates compiled from a variety of sources, including:
Wallace’s book and other publications; the journals he kept during
his trip; his letters; and the known dates of arrival and departure of
certain ships (especially mail steamers), as reported by newspapers
of the time. Many of the dates remain tentative and will probably
never be known with certainty, a situation not helped by the fact
that Wallace made many mistakes when recording dates in his jour-
nals and elsewhere. The list includes all of Wallace’s major sea
voyages between islands and the dates he stayed on them, but it does
not detail his travels within or around the islands in question. Names
of islands and towns are those used by Wallace, and their modern
names (if dierent) are given in brackets. Major voyages are indi-
cated in bold and stop-os in italics.
Date Places
4 March – 18 April 1854 Southampton, England – Singapore.
Departed England on P&O steamer
10 – 11 Mar. 1854 Gibraltar. Wallace did not disembark
15 – 16 Mar. 1854 Malta
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chronology of wallaces travels
20 – 26 Mar. 1854 Alexandria, Egypt. By boat to Cairo, then
overland to Suez. Departed Suez on
steamer Bengal
9 – 10 Apr. 1854 Port de Galle, Ceylon [Sri Lanka] via
Aden. Departed Port de Galle on steamer
17 Apr. 1854 Penang
 April –  July  Singapore. One week spent on Pulau
13 – 15 July 1854 Singapore – Malacca [Melaka].
On schooner Kim Soon Hin
 July –  September  Malacca [Melaka]
23 – 25 September 1854 Malacca [Melaka] – Singapore. Possibly
on barque John Bibby
 September –  October  Singapore
17 – 29 October 1854 Singapore – Sarawak. On brig Wera
 October  –  February  Sarawak, Borneo
10 – 17 February 1856 Sarawak – Singapore. Possibly on
barque Santubong
 February –  May  Singapore
23 May – 17 June 1856 Singapore – Lombock [Lombok]
On barque Kembang Djepoon
13 – 15 June 1856 Bali
 June –  August  Lombock [Lombok]
30 August – 2 September 1856 Lombock [Lombok] – Macassar
[Makassar]. On schooner Alma
 September –  December  Macassar, Celebes [Makassar, Sulawesi]
18 December 1856 – 8 January 1857 Macassar [Makassar] – Aru Islands.
By prau
31 Dec. 1856 – 6 Jan. 1857 Ké [Kai-besar] Island
 January –  July  Aru Islands: Wamar, Wokam, Maykor
2 – 11 July 1857 Aru Islands – Macassar [Makassar].
By prau
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chronology of wallaces travels
 July –  November  Macassar, Celebes [Makassar, Sulawesi]
19 – 30 November 1857 Macassar [Makassar] – Amboyna
[Ambon]. On Dutch mail steamer
24 – 26 Nov. 1857 Coupang [Kupang] and Delli [Dili],
28 – 29 Nov. 1857 Banda
 November  –  January  Amboyna [Ambon]
4 – 8 January 1858 Amboyna [Ambon] – Ternate.
On Dutch mail steamer Ambon
 January – ? February  Ternate
? February –  March  Gilolo [Halmahera]
 –  March  Ternate
25 March – 11 April 1858 Ternate – Dorey [Manokwari].
On schooner Esther Helena
26 Mar. 1858 Makian
28 Mar. 1858 Gani, Gilolo [Halmahera]
11 Apr. 1858 Mansinam [Mansman] Island
 April –  July  Dorey, New Guinea [Manokwari,
West Papua]
29 July – 15 August 1858 Dorey [Manokwari] – Ternate.
On schooner Esther Helena
 August –  September  Ternate
 September –  October  Gilolo [Halmahera]
 –  October  Ternate
9 – 21 October 1858 Ternate – Batchian [Bacan].
By local boat
9 – 10 Oct. 1858 Tidore
10 – 11 Oct. 1858 Mareh [Mare]
11 Oct. 1858 Motir [Moti]
11 – 13 Oct. 1858 Makian
13 – 19 Oct. 1858 Kaióa [Kayoa]
 October  –  March  Batchian [Bacan]
 March –  April  Kasserota [Kasiruta]
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chronology of wallaces travels
 –  April  Batchian [Bacan]
13 – 20 April 1859 Batchian [Bacan] – Ternate.
By local boat
 April –  May  Ternate
1 May – 13 May 1859 Ternate – Timor. On Dutch mail
5 – 7 May 1859 Amboyna [Ambon]
7 – 9 May 1859 Banda
 –  May  Coupang [Kupang], Timor
c. –  May  Semao [Semau] Island
 –  May  Coupang [Kupang], Timor
27 May – 10 June 1859 Coupang [Kupang] – Menado
[Manado]. On Dutch mail steamer
31 May – ? June 1859 Banda
? – 3 June 1859 Amboyna [Ambon]
7 June 1859 Ternate
 June –  September  Menado, Celebes [Manado, Sulawesi]
23 – 29 September 1859 Menado [Manado] – Amboyna
[Ambon]. On Dutch mail steamer
25 – 26 Sept. 1859 Ternate
 September –  October  Amboyna [Ambon]
29 – 31 October 1859 Amboyna – Ceram [Seram]. By local
 October –  December  Ceram [Seram]
28 – 31 December 1859 Ceram [Seram] – Amboyna [Ambon].
By local boat
 December  –  February  Amboyna [Ambon]
24 – 26 February 1860 Amboyna [Ambon] – Ceram [Seram].
By local boat
 February –  April  Ceram [Seram]
 –  April  Manowolko [Manawoka] Island
 –  April  Kissiwoi, Matabello [Watubela] Island
 –  April  Uta [Kisyui] Island
 –  April  Bam [Baam] Island
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chronology of wallaces travels
 –  April  Matabello [ Watubela] Island
 April  Manowolko [Manawoka] Island
 April –  May  Goram [Gorong] Island
 May –  June  Kilwaru Island
 –  June  Ceram [Seram]
17 June – 4 July 1860 Ceram [Seram] – Waigiou [Waigeo].
On Wallace’s own prau
23 – 26 June 1860 Mesmon Islands [Jefdoif Islands]
 July –  August  Waigiou [ Waigeo], New Guinea
 August –  September  Bessir [Besir], Gam Island
 –  September  Waigiou [ Waigeo], New Guinea
 –  October  Bessir [Besir], Gam Island
2 October – 5 November 1860 Bessir [Besir] – Ternate. On Wallace’s
own prau
3 – 4 Oct. 1860 Gagie [Gag] Island
11 – 16 Oct. 1860 Canidiluar, Gilolo [Halmahera]
18 – 21 Oct. 1860 Gani, Gilolo [Halmahera]
25 Oct. – 1 Nov. 1860 Kaióa [Kayoa]
 November  –  or  January  Ter nate
2 or 3 – 12 January 1861 Ternate – Delli [Dili]. On Dutch mail
? 7 – 8 Jan. 1861 ?Amboyna [Ambon]
? 8 – 9 Jan 1861 ?Banda
 January –  April  Delli, Timor [Dili, East Timor]
25 April – 4 May 1861 Timor – Bouru [Buru]. On Dutch mail
steamer Macassar
29 Apr. – 1 May 1861 Banda
1 – 3 May 1861 Amboyna [Ambon]
 May –  July  Bouru [Buru]
3 – 16 July 1861 Bouru [Buru] – Java. On Dutch mail
steamer Ambon
6 – 7 July 1861 Ternate
9 – 10 July 1861 Menado, Celebes [Manado, Sulawesi]
12 – 13 July 1861 Macassar, Celebes [Makassar, Sulawesi]
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chronology of wallaces travels
 July –  September  Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java
15 – 18 September 1861 Sourabaya [Surabaya] – Batavia
[Jakarta] via Samarang [Semarang].
On Dutch mail steamer Batavia
 September –  November  Batavia [Jakarta], Java
1 – 2 November 1861 Batavia [ Jakarta] – Banca [Bangka].
On Dutch mail steamer Prins van Oranje
 –  November  Banca [Bangka] Island
4 – 8 November 1861 Banca [Bangka] – Sumatra. By local
 November  –  January  Sumatra
 –  January  Banca [Bangka] Island
16 – 18 January 1862 Banca [Bangka] – Singapore. On Dutch
mail steamer Macassar
 January –  February  Singapore
8 February – 31 March 1862 Singapore – England. Departed on
P&O steamer Emeu
10 Feb. 1862 Penang
16 – ? Feb. 1862 Port de Galle, Ceylon [Sri Lanka]
22 – 25 Feb. 1862 Bombay [Mumbai], India. Departed on
P&O steamer Malta
12 – 13 Mar. 1862 Egypt: Suez to Alexandria by train.
Departed Alexandria on P&O steamer
17 – 25 Mar. 1862 Malta. Departed on steamer
27 – 30 Mar. 1862 France: Marseilles to Boulogne by train
 March  Folkestone, England
. This chronology is based on those published in van Wyhe, J. (ed.). . The
Annotated Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. Singapore: NUS Press, and
Berry, A. Timeline of Wallace’s travels. In: Wallace, A. R. . The Malay Archi-
pelago. UK: Penguin, with corrections and additions by George Beccaloni.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
On Dutch mail steamer Ambon
  • Amboyna
Amboyna [Ambon] -Ternate. On Dutch mail steamer Ambon
  • Ternate -Timor
Ternate -Timor. On Dutch mail steamer 5 -7 May 1859
On Dutch mail steamer Macassar
  • Banca
Banca [Bangka] -Singapore. On Dutch mail steamer Macassar
Departed on steamer 27
  • Malta
Malta. Departed on steamer 27 -30 Mar. 1862
Marseilles to Boulogne by train 31
  • France
France: Marseilles to Boulogne by train 31 March 1862
The Annotated Malay Archipelago by
  • A Berry
This chronology is based on those published in van Wyhe, J. (ed.). 2015. The Annotated Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. Singapore: NUS Press, and Berry, A. Timeline of Wallace's travels. In: Wallace, A. R. 2014. The Malay Archipelago. UK: Penguin, with corrections and additions by George Beccaloni.