Celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace's Bicentenary

2023 marks the bicentenary of Alfred Russel Wallace's birth, on 8 January 1823. A display in the Library showcases the Linnean Society's holdings of Wallace's manuscripts, journals, letters, photographs and more.

As part of the bicentenary celebrations of Alfred Russel Wallace’s birth 200 years ago this year, we have held a number of events: we have attended a tree planting in Usk, we have dedicated three Linnean Lens talks to Wallace’s collections, and we have hosted Jim Costa to talk about his new book Radical by Nature, with drinks in the Royal Academy’s Reynolds Room, where the papers by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace were read on 1 July 1858.

To accompany Jim Costa’s lecture, the Collections team put on display in the Library many of the Linnean Society’s Wallace holdings.

The cases follow the themes of travels (showcasing Wallace's numerous travel journals as well as the few drawings salvaged from his ill-fated return to England from Brazil in 1852), his library (with many of Wallace's heavily annotated books), Wallace as a Fellow of the Linnean Society and his interests in spiritualism, and finally the theory of evolution by natural selection, and his relationship with Darwin. This display case includes an important late manuscript loaned by Lars Fjeldsoe-Lielsen, written by Wallace in 1913 a few months before his death, and entitled ‘Notes for the use of Mr James Marchant as to his proposed Book on the Life-Work of Darwin and Wallace.

The Society's Library at Burlington House is open Tuesdays to Fridays, from 10am to 5pm.

Feel free to drop in! The display is open to all and free of charge.

The exhibition will close on Wednesday 20 December 2023.

The Library is occasionally closed due to events or rail strikes, so check our website for any possible closures or changes to our opening times, or contact us at library@linnean.org.