Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), colleague of Charles Darwin, co-discoverer of the principle of natural selection, "father" of the field of evolutionary biogeography, vocal socialist and spiritualist, land reform theorist, intense social critic, etc., etc., was one of the most captivating figures of his time. Wallace began his professional career through two great natural history collecting expeditions, one to the Amazon and the other to the Australasian Archipelago; so successful were these that many observers would place him as the front-ranking field naturalist of all time. after he returned to England in 1862, however, his professional emphasis shifted toward writing. His published works included more than twenty books and close to a thousand other items: technical scientific papers, essays, commentaries, book reviews, and, not least, some three hundred letters to the Editor. It is in the last that his temperament comes out most strongly, and it is our privilege in the present work to reproduce more than two hundred of these, extending to all of his many intellectual passions. The philosopher Charles Peirce once wrote of Wallace that he "never wrote a dull line in his life, and couldn't if he tried", and the reader here can expect to be entertained accordingly.
Charles H. Smith, Ph.D., FLS, has been studying Wallace's work for more than thirty years and has several other books on him to his credit; he also maintains the ever-expanding research website The Alfred Russel Wallace Page at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, where he is Science Librarian and Professor of Library Public Services.
Kelsey Patterson is a recent graduate of the Honors Program at the same institution, where she double-majored in Financial Planning and Business Informatics. She is currently employed by Unified Trust Company, N.A., of Lexington, Kentucky.