Paper: Homing In: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Homes in Britain (1852 to 1913)

I have just made my illustrated article on Alfred Russel Wallace’s homes in Britain available online.

This article–published in The Linnean, vol. 30, no. 2 (October 2014)–set out to fix with a greater degree of accuracy where and when he lived at each home. The intention is that this will act as the first stage of a larger study of how his choice of residence affected his thinking–if indeed it did.

Anybody who has an interest in a similar project with another individual or with Wallace, please do contact me. I would be very interested to hear what you have done or are doing.

Here is the introduction from the article:

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) lived a life filled with innovative, inspiring and idiosyncratic intellectual endeavour. Having independently codiscovered the theory of natural selection in 1858 with Charles Darwin, he also pioneered the study of animal distribution as the ‘father of biogeography’ as well as innumerable other achievements within the scientific and socio-political realms.

Despite Wallace’s fame, some of the details of his life remain infuriatingly fuzzy. This is particularly the case regarding his homes. Local historians have occasionally studied Wallace’s homes in more detail. However, the most comprehensive research into his residences was undertaken by George Beccaloni. Now, with greater access to Wallace’s correspondence, we can piece together a more accurate picture of his residences. This paper supplements Beccaloni’s work, clarifying where Wallace lived from the period of his return from South America in 1852 to his death in 1913, focusing exclusively upon Wallace’s British residences.

Much work has already been undertaken to study the influence of Wallace’s environment on his thinking prior to his work on natural selection. Yet, no such equivalent has been produced for his later life. To understand the power of place on Wallace’s later intellectual development we need to first fix where he was. It is to this important preliminary task this paper turns.

You can read this in many places including:

The same volume also includes an interesting article on Darwin and his homes by Joe Cain. Well worth reading if you’re interested in this area.


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