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Marianne North

Biography

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Marianne North (October 24, 1830 - August 30, 1890) was an English naturalist and flower-painter.

North was born at Hastings, the eldest daughter of a Norfolk landowner, descended from Roger North.

She trained as a vocalist under Madame Sainton-Dolby, but her voice failed, and she then devoted herself to painting flowers. After the death of her mother in 1855 she constantly travelled with her father, who was then member of parliament for Hastings; and on his death in 1869 she resolved to realize her early ambition of painting the flora of distant countries.

In 1871-1872 with this object she went to Canada, the United States and Jamaica, and spent a year in Brazil, where she did much of her work at a hut in the depths of a forest. In 1875, after a few months at Tenerife, she began a journey round the world, and for two years was occupied in painting the flora of California, Japan, Borneo, Java and Ceylon.

The year 1878 she spent in India, and after her return she exhibited a number of her drawings in London. Her subsequent offer to present the collection to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and to erect a gallery for their reception, was accepted, and the new buildings, designed by James Ferguson, were begun in the same year. Kew Gardens is divided into three sections, east, west, and north; the North Gallery is in the east section.

At Darwin's suggestion she went to Australia in 1880, and for a year painted there and in New Zealand. Her gallery at Kew was opened in 1882. In 1883, after a visit by her to South Africa, an additional room was opened at the Kew gallery, and in 1884-1885 she worked at Seychelles and in Chile.

Miss North died at Alderly in Gloucestershire on the 30th of August 1890. 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.

A number of plant species are named in her honour, including Areca northiana, Crinum northianum, Kniphofia northiana, Nepenthes northiana, and Northea seychellana.

-Wikipedia

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