Name: Course: Instructor: Date: Introduction Alfred Russell Wallace was a British explorer, naturalist, and one of the most stupendous 19th Century’s evolutionary intellectuals. He was born in the year 1823 to Thomas Vere Wallace, a trained lawyer who did not practice law, preferring a quiet country life of literally pursuits and gardening; and Mary Anne Greenell, about whom Wallace says almost nothing in his autobiography…
However, only Wallace and other two of his nine siblings (Fanny and John) survived past early adulthood. The deteriorating financial condition of Wallace’s family interrupted his education. However, his home was a rich source of maps, books as well as gardening activities, which Wallace recalled later with pleasure. He notes in his autobiography that he devoted far more time to the games that he played as a child than to the lessons that he received at school, and he found this to be boring and painful. Nevertheless, Wallace was a realistically good student since in his last year of school; he assisted in teaching the younger pupils. This anomalous position of being both a teacher and a pupil was especially repugnant to the tall young man, and he suffered from recurring dreams of colossal torment at school for two decades (Wallace & Camerini, 4). As discussed earlier, Wallace grew up in an underprivileged background, what may be designated as rural middleclass in rural Wales and then in Hertford, England. This upbringing was very different from that of other Victorian scientific counterparts (Wallace & Camerini, 4). ...
He also had the opportunity of travelling abroad, which gave him exposure and respect for ‘savages’ (persons from non-European cultures) and to the colonial exploitation systems that they were exposed to. Therefore, that his enduring identification with the underdog eventually resulted in his becoming a socialist is not astounding (Wallace & Berry, 1). Wallace explains in his autobiography that in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, Britain’s economic base revolutioniz d from agriculture to manufacturing and the British Empire grew in power as well as in size. This was a period of new opportunities as well as mounting dissent. The traditional values of Britain’s agricultural society were based on the status and wealth of the family where one came from. Industrialization and expansion into colonial lands subverted the staid social structure, and there resulted a substantial wealth and power re-distribution out of the need for expertise as well as scientific knowledge in the change to a manufacturing society. This wide context shaped the life of Wallace while he was young, a context charged with difficulties to traditional forms of authority, particularly the Church of England along with political power based on heritage. The fact that Wallace’s interests ranged so broadly makes it very hard to apply a single label to him. Depicting him as a natural scientist would do for the early part of his life, but so would travel writer and geographer; one would have to add spiritualist, intellectual and social critic for the second half of his life. Equally difficult to pin down is his status within the scientific community. To some historians, Wallace was a loner, an outsider or the ‘other’ man who discovered evolution. These terms however ...
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