Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life

Peter Raby, Author
Peter Raby, Author Princeton University Press $47.5 (368p) ISBN 978-0-691-00695-6
Reviewed on: 07/01/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Darwin's competitor for proving a theory of natural selection was stuck in the Spice Islands, malarial and enjoying a less hulking reputation than his colleague did. In Alfred Russel Wallace: A Life, Peter Raby (Samuel Butler) shows that, save for these setbacks, Wallace might have been our man on evolution. Like other biographers before him, Raby, who lectures on Drama and English at Homerton College, University of Cambridge, describes the disastrous fire that consumed four years' worth of specimens Wallace had collected in the Amazon, the essay that Wallace sent to Darwin revealing his ideas about natural selection, Darwin's rush to publish his ideas first, Wallace's ongoing but lesser achievements, his long, energetic career. Though boasting no original material (Wallace's life is an open book), Raby's accomplished study is the first in some years and adds greater insight into this likeable underdog's personality. (Aug.)
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