Marianne North

Houses and Bridges of the Malays at Sarawak, Borneo
Houses and Bridges of the Malays
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 exotic flora.

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.

Marianne North Portrait
Slideshow of Marriane North's paintings
Further Reading
Marianne North, A Very Intrepid Painter
by Michelle Payne

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

A Vision of Eden: The Life and Work of Marianne North
by Marianne North

Recollections of a Happy Life
by Marianne North


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