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Alfred Russel Wallace

In the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey, next to Charles Darwin’s memorial, is a white marble roundel with a profile relief bust to the memory of naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. This is by the sculptor Albert Bruce-Joy and was erected in 1915. The inscription reads:

ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE 1823-1913

Wallace was born on 8th January 1823 in Usk, South Wales, one of many children of Thomas Vere Wallace and his wife Mary (Greenell). He started his career as a surveyor and had at first just an amateur interest in botany and geology. In 1848 he began a natural history collecting expedition to the Amazon and in 1854 went to Malaysia. Independently of Darwin he formed a theory of evolution by natural selection or ‘survival of the fittest’ and in 1858 he and Darwin publicly announced it in a joint paper to the Linnean Society. In 1866 he married Annie Mitten (d.1914) and they had two children (Violet and William). He published his book The Malay Archipelago in 1869 and by the end of his life was known as ‘the Grand Old Man of Science’. He died on 7th November 1913 at Broadstone, near Wimborne, in Dorset and was buried there.

Further reading

A.R.Wallace “My Life...”, 2 volumes 1905

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Born

8th January 1823

Died

7th November 1913

Occupation

Scientist

Location

North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type

Bust

Material Type

Marble

Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace

By Linnean Society of London [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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