About Marianne North
Marianne North (24 October 1830 - 30 August 1890) was an English naturalist and botanical artist.
Life with her parents
Marianne North was born at Hastings, the eldest daughter of a prosperous land-owning family descended from the Hon. Roger North, younger son of Dudley North, 4th Baron North. Her father was Frederick North, a Norfolk Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, and Liberal M.P. for Hastings. Her mother, Janet, was the daughter of Sir John Marjoribanks M.P., 1st Baronet of Lees in the County of Berwick.
She trained as a vocalist under Charlotte Helen 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 decided to pursue her early ambition of painting the flora of distant countries.
Travel and work
She began her travels in 1871-1872, going first 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 in Tenerife, she began a journey round the world, and for two years painted the flora of California, Japan, Borneo, Java and Ceylon. She spent 1878 in India.
On her return to Britain she exhibited a number of her drawings in London. She offered to give the collection to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and to erect a gallery to house them. This offer was accepted, and the new buildings, designed by James Fergusson, were begun that year.
At Charles Darwin's suggestion she went to Australia in 1880, and for a year painted there and in New Zealand. Her paintings of Banksia attenuata, B. grandis and B. robur were highly regarded., 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. She died at Alderly in Gloucestershire on 30 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 the genus name Northia.
Kew Gardens claims that the North Gallery (confusingly, situated in the east section of the gardens) is "the only permanent solo exhibition by a female artist in Britain". In 2008 Kew obtained a substantial grant from the National Lottery, which enabled it to mount a major restoration of both the gallery and the paintings inside.