Early Life and Work
Alfred Russel Wallace was born in January of 1823, in Monmouthshire, Wales. His family moved to Hertford, near London, when he was five, and upon reaching adulthood he trained as a surveyor with his brother William.
During his early twenties Wallace befriended Henry Bates, a notable entomologist, began collecting insects, and also began reading evolutionary works, including Charles Darwin’s Journal and Remarks, concerning the latter’s voyages aboard the Beagle. Wallace was inspired by what he read, and decided to begin traveling as a naturalist.
Wallace embarked upon his first voyage in 1848, bound for Brazil, where he hoped to collect insects for sale, and find evidence of the transmutation of species (this being the term commonly used at the time to describe the process whereby one species evolved into another). Wallace spent four years abroad before returning to England, where he published several scientific papers and books, and began interacting with other naturalists, including Darwin.
Between 1954 and 1862, Wallace journeyed in the Malay Archipelago (now Malaysia and Indonesia), studying the fauna and flora and collecting specimens for sale. During these years, he collected more than 125,000 different specimens, including 1,000 which were entirely new.