Life Story

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace was born in Usk on the 8th January1823, and moved to Hereford when he was 5 years old. Wallace’s formal education ended when he left school at thirteen years old. When Wallace’s father took up a job in the local library he used this as an opportunity to self educate himself.

When Wallace was 18 years old he took up work with his brother William who trained him in the field of surveying, until Wallace acquired a teaching job at Leicester University. Here he met Henry Bates who introduced him to the world of botany and collecting insects, and later in life went on to travel with Wallace to the Amazon on their first expedition becoming a lifelong friend.

Wallace’s interest in the natural world grew extensively and he had an insatiable desire to learn and discover which propelled him to become one of the great evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century and make enormous contributions to science and the development of evolutionary theory.

Through Wallace’s extensive explorations of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Amazon he became the leading expert on the geographical distribution of species.

But were did it all begin?

Wallace spent a mere 5 years of his life in Neath however it was his time spent here that changed Wallace’s life forever and led to him becoming the great naturalist he was.

Find out more about the Alfred Russel Wallace Trail where you can follow in these famous footsteps.Natural History Museum