Writings

Here are writings by neglected personalities. Many of these selections are unavailable in ordinary libraries; they are offered here in the hopes of making them available to a wider public.

Alfred Russel Wallace

The Ternate Paper of 1858: "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type." This was the paper mailed in manuscript form to Charles Darwin on 9 Mar 1858. When Darwin received the paper, he was apparently somewhat taken aback, as it contained in outline the solution to the "species problem" which had interested him intensely since his Beagle voyage. After consulting with several close professional colleagues, including Charles Lyell, Darwin determined on a course which included presenting to the Linnaean Society (on 1 July) Wallace's paper, along with some of his own letters and notes. To this day, many texts (including the Encyclopaedia Britannica) refer erroneously to the presentation of a "joint paper." A year later, Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which cemented forever in the public mind the name Darwin with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

As the first outline of natural selection, and the paper which forced Darwin's hand, causing him to publish his landmark book one year later, the Ternate paper of Wallace may be for its size the most important writing in the history of science.

Students may wish to use the slightly abridged version, annotated by Prof. Boyer.

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   Revised 2 April 1998