Patrick Wilcken

Three of a Kind

Naturalists in Paradise: Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon

By

Thames & Hudson 368pp £19.95 order from our bookshop

In 1848, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates – then unknown, self-taught naturalists in their twenties – left Liverpool, setting sail for Belém, near the mouth of the Amazon. Both had come from similarly modest backgrounds with limited formal education, but were energised by a Victorian entrepreneurial spirit. They planned to spend years collecting plants and animals in the tropics, financing their travels through the sale of specimens that they would dispatch from the Amazon back to England. The following year they were joined by the 31-year-old Richard Spruce, a schoolteacher turned botanist who was an established amateur naturalist, having already collected in the Pyrenees. 

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