In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, History

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Society & Culture 52
History 14

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


Alfred Russel Wallace

March 21st, 2013

Episode 282 of 515 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, a pioneer of evolutionary theory. Born in 1823, Wallace travelled extensively, charting the distribution of animal species throughout the world. This fieldwork in the Amazon and later the Malay Archipelago led him to formulate a theory of evolution through natural selection. In 1858 he sent the paper he wrote on the subject to Charles Darwin, who was spurred into the writing and publication of his own masterpiece On the Origin of Species. Wallace was also the founder of the science of biogeography and made important discoveries about the nature of animal coloration. But despite his visionary work, Wallace has been overshadowed by the greater fame of his contemporary Darwin. With: Steve Jones Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London George Beccaloni Curator of Cockroaches and Related Insects and Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project at the Natural History Museum Ted Benton Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex Producer: Thomas Morris.