Sunday, February 10, 2008

Marianne North

(1830 - 1890)
Botanic Explorer

This extraordinary young British woman discovered plants and painted or drew them in a scientifically and extremely accurate manner. She undertook many a journey: Syria, the Nile, Sicily, North America, the West Indies, Brazil, Japan, Borneo, Java, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India.

Marianne painted many hundreds of pictures, preferring to dedicate herself to this work in the solitude of jungle huts rather than being feted by the local hierarchy. She paid for the building of a gallery at the Kew Botanical Gardens, which opened in 1882. This gallery still contains over 800 of her works.

One previously unknown tree she had drawn - the capucin - was subsequently named "northea" after Marianne, and she is also commemorated by the "crinum northianum", the "kniphofia northiana ' and the "nepenthe northiana".

More on at PlantExplorers and on Victorian Web.

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