Marianne North was one-of that breed
of Victorian spinsters who travelled alone,
quietly and with great determination,
indulging her consuming passion:
painting flowers. For 15 years she painted
her way across the world, recording
Born in Hastings in 1830, Marianne North enjoyed a carefree childhood and cultured
upbringing as the adored daughter of a distinguished M.P., Frederick North. She
never married, content to remain the affectionate "Aunt Pop" to her brother's
and sister's families. Between the years 1871 and 1886 she visited every continent,
making new friends and painting wherever she went.
She covered America, both north and south, and in 1872 found herself the chief
guest at a dinner given by President Grant whose wife, as Marianne noted with
amusement in her diary, 'talked of me as the daughter of Lord North, the ex-Prime
Minister of England who died in 1792. I knew I was old, but not that ancient!'
She visited many parts of Asia, staying with the "White Rajah," Charles Brooke, in
Sarawak where she concluded tartly that 'those long European dinners are a mistake
so near the Equator.'
At Charles Darwin's suggestion she visited Australia and
New Zealand, and in many short hops to Europe and a voyage to Africa, she completed
her collection of paintings of the world's flora. Marianne died in 1890, leaving
behind a set of memoirs which she aptly named Recollections of a Happy Life.