"By mid-1837 Wallace had joined the eldest brother, William, in Bedfordshire to learn the surveying trade. In January 1839 he was temporarily apprenticed to a watchmaker, but less than a year later was back with William, by then working in Hereford. In these and the following years he gained a good practical education in a number of technical trades (surveying, drafting and map-making, mechanics, building design and construction, agricultural chemistry, and so on), and began to develop an amateur's interest in natural history subjects, especially geology, astronomy, and botany. In 1841 he became associated with the newly formed Kington Mechanics' Institution and in that same year or the next, on moving to the Welsh town of Neath, began attending lectures sponsored by the Neath area's scientific societies. Soon he was frequenting the local libraries and giving his own lectures on various popular science subjects at the Neath Mechanics' Institute. In the early 1840s he also began to write: one of his first efforts, on the disposition of mechanics' institutes, was composed about 1841 and reached print in a history of Kington published in 1845" (ODNB).
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