What was the life of a nineteenth-century collector really like? Find out how Wallace survived a sinking ship, trekked through the rainforest, and made an epic journey across the Malay Archipelago.
Wallace's specimen display to show how edible butterflies resemble (mimic) inedible butterfly species in order to avoid being eaten by predators.
Wallace's specimens of butterflies showing colour differences between males and females.
Wallace's specimens of birdwing butterflies (Papilionidae) from Asia and Australasia.
Wallace's specimens of stag beetles, weevils and chafers, some of which are illustrated in his book The Malay Archipelago.
Wallace's specimens of Asian bugs, wasps, bees, earwigs, bush-crickets and other insects.
Wallace's specimens of stick and leaf insects, a stag-horned deer-fly and other insects from Asia.
Wallace's specimens of bird and marsupial skin collected from Asia and South America.
Wallace's specimens of dead leaf butterflies from Asia and moths from North America.
Letter from Wallace to Henry Walter Bates listing and describing insect specimens and plans for further collections, dated June 1845.
Letter from Wallace to Henry Walter Bates about the lack of good insect collecting and sending a list of duplicate specimens, dated October 1845.
Letter from Wallace to Henry Walter Bates exchanging insect lists and considering a design for an insect display cabinet, dated October 1845.
Letter from Wallace to fellow entomologist Henry Walter Bates about exchanging insect lists, plans for keeping a journal, and natural history books, dated April 1846.
Letter from Herbert Edward Wallace (Wallace's brother) to his mother and sister Fanny about collecting animals to pay his debts and plans for returning home, dated August, probably 1850.
Drawing of the fish Curimatus schomburkii, made on the Rio Negro in South America, dated November 1851.
Manuscript notes on the fish Curimatus schomburkii from the Rio Negro in South America, dated November 1851.
Fish drawing of Ageneiosus militaris, made on the Rio Negro in South America, dated April 1852.
Manuscript notes on the fish Ageneiosus militaris from the Rio Negro in South America, dated April 1852.
Letter (dated September 1852) from Wallace to botanist friend Richard Spruce describing the burning and sinking of his ship near Brazil, the loss of his collections and his subsequent rescue
Letter from Wallace to his mother describing the people and wildlife of Singapore, staying with a missionary and the progress of his assistant Charles, dated April 1854.
Letter from Wallace to his mother about sending beetles to his agent Mr Stevens, future travel plans and his daily routine as a collector, dated May 1854.
Letter from Wallace to his mother describing a treatment for fever, collecting insects and birds, meeting Sir James Brooke and problems with his field assistant, dated September 1854.
Letter from Wallace to his sister Fanny describing life in Sarawak, the qualities he looked for in a field assistant and Charles' failure to meet them, and hand-rearing an orphaned orang-utan, dated June 1855.
Letter from Wallace to his sister Fanny about his assistant leaving and successful collecting in Borneo, dated February 1856.
Letter from Wallace to fellow entomologist Henry Walter Bates giving an account of the insects of the Malay Archipelago and expressing ideas about geographical distribution, dated April 1856.
Manuscript notes on the hornbill bird (Buceros cassidix), undated, circa 1856.
Notebook entry listing food supplies taken to Aru (New Guinea), undated, circa 1857.
Letter from Wallace to Frederick Bates commenting on his collection of insects and describing observations of their colouring in relation to habitat, dated March 1858.
Letter from Wallace to fellow insect collector Henry Walter Bates describing the geographical distribution of animals and rivers as geographical barriers, dated December 1861.
Letter from Thomas Butler, of the British Museum, to Wallace stating that Wallace will be paid £5, dated June 1867.
Letter from Thomas Butler of the British Museum to Wallace stating that Wallace will be paid £5 minus the cost of the postal order, dated June 1867.
Annotated list by Wallace, sent to his entomologist friend Henry Walter Bates with details of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, dated January 1858.
The Malay Archipelago dedication to Darwin and a map showing Wallace's journey, dated 1869.
Photograph of Wallace's young naturalist friend Fred Birch, dated July 1899.
For enquiries about the Wallace Collection please email the library
Explore over 3,800 letters written and received by Alfred Russel Wallace, including iconic correspondence with Charles Darwin.