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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY

ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE

Naturalist, author; honorary member, Society for Psychical Research, London, 1882-1913. B. January 8, 1823, Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales; d. November 7, 1913, Broadstone, Dorset, England. Educ. Hertford Grammar Schoo. M. 1866, Mary Mitten: 1 d. 1 s. Wallace's formal education terminated at the age of 14, when he started work as assistant to an older brother, a surveyor and architect, a job which he soon left to become a schoolmaster. Later he explored the river Amazon with the naturalist H. W. Bates (1848-52), and continued his studies in comparative biology on an expedition to the Malay Archipelago (1854-62).

Wallace was co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, although he worked independently of Darwin and sent his findings to the great naturalist before Darwin had published his Origin of Species. Darwin presented Wallace's parallel theory together with his own more detailed conclusions, representing some twenty years of research and organization, as a joint paper before the Linnaenan Society, London, in 1858. After a lecture tour of the United States (1886-87) Wallace received the degrees LL.D. and D.C.L. (Oxford, 1889), was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1893) and was awarded the Order of Merit (1910).

Wallace's interest in psychical research started, and most of his work in this field was carried out, before the founding of the SPR, having begun as the result of his successful attempts, when a schoolmaster, to mesmerize some of his pupils. He returned to the study of hypnotism, which he termed "phreno-mesmerism," in 1870, and appears later to have discarded the idea that there was a connection between hypnotism and phrenology.

Wallace was a member of the committee of the London Dialectical Society which examined a wide range of so-called spiritualist phenomena and pronounced them genuine (report issued in 1871). He became a convinced spiritualist, and was founder-memer of the London Spiritualist Alliance (1896). His publications include On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (1875); A Defence of Modern Spiritualism (1894); Man's Place in the Universe (1903); My Life (1905), and numerous books on travel and evolution.


Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications


 
 

 

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