How it happened
He was the eighth child of the family, born in this house, Kensington Cottage, Llanbadoc, near Usk in 1823. In his autobiography, My Life, he tells how he, a little boy in short frocks with long fair hair, played with his brother in the trees behind the house, cooking potatoes on a fire and fishing for lampreys. His first venture of discovery up the Amazon was arduous and ended in disaster when the ship carrying all his specimens caught fire and almost all of four years' work was destroyed. He was resilient and courageous and set off again to Malaysia. Over six feet tall, he was badly co-ordinated but tolerant when the people of the countries he visited found him amusing as he stumbled and tripped over things. Wallace bore illness and severe discomfort with great fortitude. In many ways he comes across as more lovable than Darwin and eventually his worth was recognised by the Order of Merit in 1908. There is a medallion bearing his name in Westminster Abbey.