charles darwin

TALK in London & Oxford: "Indefatigable Naturalists: Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail" by Jim Costa

On 24 and 30 July 2014, Jim Costa will be delivering a paper on Wallace and Darwin entitled “Indefatigable Naturalists: Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail” in both London and Oxford.

Here is the abstract:

Alfred Russel Wallace was the last of the great Victorian naturalists, and by the end of his long life in 1913 he was also one of the most famous scientists in the world, lauded by leading learned societies, British royalty and US Presidents alike. Against all odds—lacking wealth, formal education, social standing or connections—Wallace became the pre-eminent tropical naturalist of his day. He founded one entirely new discipline—evolutionary biogeography—and, with Darwin, co-founded another: evolutionary biology. Yet today Darwin’s name is universally recognised, while Wallace is all but unknown. Jim traces the independent development of Wallace’s and Darwin’s evolutionary insights, exploring the fascinating parallels, intersections and departures in their thinking.

Drawing on Wallace’s “Species Notebook” (the most important of Wallace’s field notebooks kept during his southeast Asian explorations of the 1850s) Costa puts Wallace’s thinking into a new light in relation to that of his more illustrious colleague. He also examines the ups and downs of Wallace’s relationship with Darwin, and critically evaluates the misleading “conspiracy theories” that Wallace was wronged by Darwin and his circle over credit for the discovery of natural selection. Tracing the arc of Wallace’s reputation from meteoric rise in the 19th century to virtual eclipse in the 20th, Costa restores Wallace to his proper place in the limelight with Darwin.

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UPDATED: A new(ish) book on Wallace in French: "Alfred Russel Wallace, plus darwiniste que Darwin mais politiquement moins correct" by Jacques Reisse


UPDATED: I received the book this morning (1 July) and have updated the post below adding the table of contents as promised.

Mooching around the library catalogue of the National Library of Armenia (as you do…) I came across a new book (published in 2013) in French on Alfred Russel Wallace I must have missed.

It is by Jacques Reisse* and titled Wallace: Alfred Russel Wallace, plus darwiniste que Darwin mais politiquement moins correct (available both as an eBook and a hard copy) and was published by the Academie Royale de Belgique.

I am quite excited about this. The interest in Wallace in Francophone countries continues to grow. Only recently a French translation of Peter Raby’s excellent Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life  was published as Alfred R. Wallace, l’explorateur de l’évolution (2013) with a welcome and interesting introduction by the philosopher and historian of science, Jean Gayon.

This growing Francophone interest is important because they clearly have a different perspective on Wallace, Darwin and the history of evolution and science more generally. These fresh perspectives are to be very warmly welcomed especially when considering the more heterodox thinking of Wallace. (more…)

TALK in Cardiff: "Wallace, Darwin and human evolution" by Chris Stringer

If anyone is in or around Cardiff on 10 June there is an interesting talk on “Wallace, Darwin and human evolution” taking place at Cardiff University in the Wallace Lecture theatre from 6.30pm.

I saw a paper delivered on much the same subject by Chris Stringer, who works at the Natural History Museum in London, at the Royal Society late last year and it was very interesting.


I am still waiting to get the time to finally start and finish his Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain which has been on my reading list for about a year. It was well received at the time winning the Best Archaeology Book Award and Kistler Book Award in 2008. Certainly, the opening chapters I have read were very interesting and well written. But I will have to reserve judgement on the bulk of the book for now.

If anyone does get to go–unfortunately I will be in London delivering a paper myself–please do tell me what he had to say and what you thought.

The lecture is free and more information is available on the Cardiff University events page.