Abundant Beauty: The Adventurous Travels of Marianne North, Botanical Artist

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Greystone Books Limited, May 1, 2010 - Art - 224 pages
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A delightful and informative trek across the globe by a witty, intelligent, and courageous Victorian artist and adventurer.In 1871, at age 41, Marianne North, an artist with a keen interest in botany, decided to travel the world on a quest to paint as many plants and flowers as she could find in their natural habitat. Encouraged by scientific friends such as Charles Darwin, North travelled by boat, train, mule, and palanquin and on foot to every continent except Antarctica. She circled the globe twice over fifteen years, parasol and easel in hand, and accumulated an extensive and valuable collection of paintings. In 1882, North provided a building to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, to house her more than 800 works (showing more than 900 unique plant species); the Marianne North Gallery is still a centerpiece of the gardens and a popular destination. The scientific accuracy with which she documented plant life in all parts of the world, before photography became a practical option, gives her work a permanent value.

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About the author (2010)

Marianne North was born in 1830 in Hastings, England. The daughter of a politician, North was raised in a socially active and intellectually stimulating household. She cared for her parents until their deaths, taking on the role of her father’s housekeeper and travelling companion until he died in 1869. For the next fifteen years, she travelled extensively, painting indigenous and unique plants from the four corners of the globe. She took her last journey (to Chile) in 1884 and then, suffering from attacks of "nerves,” settled for good at her cottage at Gloucestershire to organize her journals. A number of plant species are named in her honour, including Areca northiana, Crinum northianum, and Kniphofia northiana. Marianne North died in 1890.

Laura Ponsonby, former Archivist, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, is the author of two books about Marianne North.

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