Worlds of Wonder: Alfred Wallace

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The science storylines and character creation within Doctor Who have always taken inspiration from the natural world. Join Dr John James Wilson, Curator of vertebrate Zoology at World Museum as he introduces us to Alfred Russel Wallace, natural history collector, his expedition to South East Asia in 1854 and his ideas about evolution. This 8-year stay was to be a turning point for Wallace personally, but also humankind’s collective understanding of the natural world. Supported by teams of local people Wallace amassed the largest natural history collection ever assembled, which he sold on to British museums, including World Museum, to fund his travels. Wallace’s observations in South East Asia led him to independently originate the theory of evolution by natural selection, which he later published conjointly with Charles Darwin.

Wallace’s famous account of his travels in “The Malay Archipelago” had a profound influence on contemporary fiction but to Victorian society, the unfamiliarity of the “Far East”, and the wonderful animals Wallace encountered could easily have passed for science fiction. This next generation’s own travelogues reveal how their ‘scientific collecting’ intersected with the myths and legends of the local people.

Event takes place in our Treasure House Theatre.