A 19th-century naturalist’s daily schedule: Alfred Russel Wallace in Singapore

Alfred Russel Wallace was a Victorian naturalist and collector, best-known today for coming up with a version of the theory of evolution by natural selection, and sending it to Charles Darwin.

This is from a letter to family, May 28, 1854:

Singapore is very rich in beetles & before I leave I think I shall have a most beautiful collection.

I will tell you how my day is now occupied. Get up at half past 5. Bath & coffee. Sit down to arrange & put away my insects of the day before, & set them safe out to dry. Charles mending nets, filling pincushions & getting ready for the day. Breakfast at 8. Out to the jungle at 9. We have to walk up a steep hill to get to it & always arrive dripping with perspiration.

Then we wander about till two or three generally returning with about 50-60 beetles, some very rare & beautiful. Bathe, change clothes & sit down to kill & pin insects. Charles d[itt]o. with his bugs & wasps, I do not trust him yet with beetles.

Dinner at 4. Then work again till six.

Coffee – Read – if very numerous work at insects till 8-9 then to bed.

Adieu with love to all.

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