Published by Holiday House
Summary: Growing up in Victorian England, Marianne North was never encouraged in her passions for art and botany. Self-taught in both, she stayed home and cared for her “irritable, demanding” father until his death when she was 40. When an elderly widow invited her to be a traveling companion to North America, Marianne jumped at the chance. This trip led her to Jamaica and the tropics she had long dreamed of seeing. She eventually circumnavigated the world several times, seeking out exotic plant species that she could paint. When her paintings crowded her London flat, she arranged to have a gallery built for them as part of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Marianne North Gallery opened in 1882 with 627 paintings on display. She spent the last few years of her life at home in the English countryside, gardening, painting, and writing her memoirs before her death in 1890 at the age of 59. Includes additional information on her legacy and writings, as well as sources and a who’s who of people Marianne encountered throughout her life. 44 pages; grades 2-5.
Pros: This fascinating account of a woman who defied social expectations to lead an adventurous life makes for an inspiring read. Her single-minded passions, preference for being alone, and discomfort with social situations made me wonder if she was neurodivergent. The brilliant illustrations capture the spirit of North’s work, and make sure to check out the endpapers for reproductions of some of her paintings (identified in the back matter).
Cons: The small font of the text.