Talk – Alfred Wallace

The Old Court House, Sarawak Tourism Complex

9 July


A British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist, Alfred Russel Wallace became a public figure in England during the second half of the 19th century.

He was best known for his formulation of the theory of evolution by natural selection; which was jointly published with a few of Charles Darwin’s 1858 writings.

Also known as “the father of biogeography”, Wallace travelled through the Malay Archipelago (now known as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) between the years 1854-1862. Within that duration, he collected over 126,000 specimens – over 80,000 were beetles, while several thousand of them were species new to science. In 1869, his adventures and studies were published in a book named The Malay Archipelago, which became one of the most popular books of scientific exploration of the 19th century.

Dated in 1855, Wallace arrived in Kuching as the guest of White Rajah James Brooke. During his stay at the government lodge in Santubong, Wallace wrote a paper in only three evening sessions, entitled ‘On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species.’ It was later known as the ‘Sarawak Law’ and was published in September 1855.