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
- 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
- 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
- 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 . . .