Just for Fun

This feature will highlight offbeat and interesting facts about Wallace. Input is welcome.


  • Here's the Wallace stamp that was issued as part of the 350th anniversary celebration of the Royal Society of London.

  • Just for fun, here's what Wallace's name looks like in some other languages.

  • In its January 1882 issue, a magazine called The Herefordian (Hereford, England) regretted to "announce the death, early in the last year, of a distinguished Old Herefordian, Alfred R. Wallace, F.L.S., the naturalist . . . The Queen has granted a pension of 200 pounds a year to his widow." Where they got this idea is unclear, but it brings to mind the famous quote by Mark Twain: "Rumors of my death have been exaggerated . . ."

  • Jim Mallet at University College London has put up a page titled "A Walk Through Bates' and Wallace's Leicester" that gives some idea of what the Leicester School might have looked like when Wallace taught there in 1844-1845.

  • For those interested in what Wallace's handwriting looked like, here's a sample. And another. And another.

  • A correspondent came across a copy of a book a few years ago that had a rather strange cover: see if you recognize anything wrong with this picture. Apparently somebody goofed; when the publisher discovered their error, the early copies of the book were recalled.

  • According to S. Kanto, a Japanese writer, the character Stapleton in the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles is modelled on Wallace and his friend Bates, both of whom are also mentioned in Conan Doyle's The Lost World.

  • Apart from all the species of animals and plants that have been named after him, Wallace has also been honored by having his name attached to some other things. To begin with there is, of course, 'Wallace's Line' (discussed elsewhere on this site), plus the derivative term 'Wallacea' (which names the transitional zone between the Australian and Oriental zoogeographical regions). 'Wallace's realms' are the world's six basic zoogeographical regions. The 'Wallace Effect' (see Mayr 1959, Grant 1966, and Sawyer & Hartl 1981 in the "Writings on Wallace" section) concerns the relation of reproductive isolation to the production of sterile hybrids (and ultimately to the speciation process). More recently there has been the 'Operation Wallacea,' established in 2000 "to support activities that could directly contribute towards the conservation of biodiversity in the Wallacea region of eastern Indonesia"; also, the 'Zoological Society Wallacea,' a "new society for zoological research in South East Asia" (having begun in 2003, there is also a Journal of the Zoological Society Wallacea). In a paper published in 2005, it was suggested that the main macroevolutionary patterns associated with venemous snake mimicry be referred to as the 'Savage-Wallace Effects' (see Greene & McDiarmid 2005 in the "Writings on Wallace" section here). In 2009 the Dairy Farm Nature Park opened in Singapore; it contains the 'Wallace Trail' and the Wallace Education Centre, both named after ARW. A recently commonly-heard term is the 'Wallacean shortfall,' concerning incomplete knowledge of species distributions.

    The Darwin-Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society is a famous award that has been given out in 1908, 1958, and most recently in 2008 to prominent researchers in the field of evolutionary biology. Since 2004/05 the Royal Entomological Society has given out an 'Alfred Russel Wallace Award' annually to researchers who have done outstanding research in the field of entomology. In early 2005 the first 'Alfred Russel Wallace Award' was given out by the International Biogeography Society (IBS) at its second biennial meeting; the award is given every two years for individual lifetime achievement in the field of biogeography.

    In addition I am aware of the following: (1) the 26 km meteor crater on the Moon named 'Wallace' in 1935 is found in the Mare Imbrium lava plain (there is also a 159 km Martian crater 'Wallace,' named in 1973) (2) the 'Wallace Aviary' is an open-air facility at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton, Bristol, U.K. (3) the 'Wallace Lecture Theatre' can be found in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cardiff University in Wales (4) the 'Wallace Garden,' dedicated to genetics and evolution education, is a feature of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, located near Carmarthen in southwest Wales (5) the 'Alfred Russel Wallace Award' is a biological honor society award given at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina (where Wallace gave a lecture in 1887) (6) the pen name 'Russ Wallace' (i.e., the cartoonist Scott Henson) is derived from Wallace's name (7) the 'A. R. Wallace Prize' is a Dept. of Biological Sciences award given at Monash University in Australia (8) the 'Wallace Prize' is awarded annually by the Board of Undergraduate Studies at the National University of Singapore to assist the recipient in the purchase of books (9) reputedly, the 'Wallace Trench' is the name of an oceanic trench in the Indonesia area (an alternate name for the Java Trench?) (10) 'Mt. Wallace' (13,377 ft.), named by Theodore S. Solomons in 1895, is one of the 'Evolution Group' peaks of the Sierra Nevada in California (11) the 'Alfred Russel Wallace Award in Resource Ecology' is given out for the year's best M.Sc. thesis at Wageningen University in The Netherlands (12) the 'Wallace-Weismann hypothesis' is a name sometimes given to the idea that death in individual organisms is programmed, representing an adaptive strategy (13) there is an 'Alfred Russel Wallace Building' at Glamorgan University, Wales.

    Dr. George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London sent me (2/1/01) a list of some further items: (1) a medical center in Broadstone, Dorset, is named 'Wallace House'; (2) the road leading to the former site of Wallace's house 'Old Orchard' in Broadstone is called 'Wallace Road'; (3) the lower block of apartments built on the former site of 'Old Orchard' is known as 'Wallace Court'; (4) the Richard Hale School (formerly the Hertford Grammar School) in Hertford has had a house or division called 'Wallace House' since 1928; (5) Bournemouth University in Bournemouth has a 'Wallace Lecture Theatre'; (6) the Bournemouth Natural Sciences Society (of which Wallace may have been President at one time) has a 'Wallace Room'; (7) 'Project Wallace' was organized in 1985 by the Royal Entomological Society of London and the Indonesian Department of Science to undertake a year-long study of the Dumoga-Bone area of northern Sulawesi in Indonesia; and (8) a house at 11 St. Andrew's Street in Hertford in which Wallace may have lived for a time is now called the 'Wallace House.' There is a circular concrete plaque over its door which reads: "In this house lived Alfred Russel Wallace OM. LLD. DCL. FRS. FLS. Born 1823--Died 1913. Naturalist, Author, Scientist. Educated at Hertford Grammar School."

  • According to Gardiner (2000), the house Wallace built at Grays ("The Dell") in 1871-72 was made on his request largely of concrete, one of the first such structures built in the U. K.

  • In 1846 Wallace and his brother John designed and built a two-story stone structure in Neath, Wales, that for many years served as the Mechanic's Institute there. The building was eventually converted for use as a library and despite experiencing a severe fire in 1903 still stands (complete with memorial plaque to its creator).

  • In 1996 Wallace became the seventh person whose name is enshrined at the Monument to Human Spiritual Rights at the Red Rock Consecrated Sanctuary in Nevada. Earlier enshrinees were Mohandas Gandhi, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Kahlil Gibran, Nikola Tesla, Gustaf Stromberg, and Carl Jung; since that time the names of Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ralph Waldo Emerson have been added.

  • Considering how Wallace has for many years been known mainly as "the other man" in the development of the theory of natural selection, it should come as little surprise that he shares the date of his birthday, 8 January, with none other than Elvis Presley . . .

  • And speaking of birthdays . . . Until he noticed the error rather late in life, Wallace had always thought that the date of his birth was 8 January 1822 (instead of the actual date, 8 January 1823). Some early biographical sources in fact cite the older date.

  • Apart from gardening (which he and his wife indulged in practically daily), Wallace's favorite recreations were playing chess and, of course, reading.

  • A correspondent has mentioned that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who lived until 1930), a strong believer in and supporter of Spiritualism, claimed that "an invisible and friendly presence" often provided him with wise advice. Doyle apparently felt that this "presence" was the ghost of Wallace, a man he had much admired. Wallace was an avid reader of novels--perhaps his spirit helped Doyle out with some plot lines late in the creator of Sherlock Holmes' life . . .


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