"Where did it go wrong for Wallace's reputation?"

1 minute read

The BBC has an article by Kevin Leonard, pondering “Why does Charles Darwin eclipse Alfred Russel Wallace?” They both thought of the idea of natural selection, and by Wallace’s death he was recognized as one of the most famous scientists in the world. So how to explain this?

But while today Darwin is a household name synonymous with the theory, Wallace struggles to gain anywhere near the recognition of his friend.
This is illustrated by an appeal this year to raise funds for a life-sized bronze statue to honour Wallace - it only reached half of its 50,000 target.
Wallace expert Dr George Beccaloni, who is a curator at the Natural History Museum where the statue would stand, said: "We have enough money to pay for a torso and arms at the moment.

How sad! Of course, one might say the torso and arms of such a giant would be quite enough. And there were the seances…

There’s something sociologically very interesting about this. I wonder if it’s a misperception, though. I mean, how many really famous scientists – of the kind that get memorial statues a hundred years after their deaths – are there in each field of science?