Ref NoMN
Collection TitleMarianne North Papers
TitleMarianne North Papers
DescriptionThe collection contains correspondence in MN/1 (1875-1884) written by Marianne North to various friends and acquaintances both about her travel experiences and the creation of the North Gallery at Kew Gardens. The letters MN/1/3/1, MN/1/3/4 and MN/1/3/10 also include sketches by Miss North. The second series (MN/2) contains 8 plans of the North Gallery (c.1882 & c.1979) at RBG Kew and correspondence relating to the gallery (1882-1938).
Creator NameNorth, Marianne (1830-1890)
Extent2 volumes, 3 boxes, 8 plans
Administrative HistoryMarianne North was born in Hastings in 1830, the daughter of Frederick North MP. At an early age she revealed a talent for drawing and after the death of her father in 1869, devoted the remainder of her life to flower painting.
Miss North travelled widely, often enduring considerable discomfort, in order to paint flowers in their natural habitats. Although she received no formal training in drawing and painting, and was somewhat unconventional in her methods, her work achieved a high level of artistic competence. She painted quickly, often completing a picture in a day.
In 1871, she undertook the first of her many journeys, visiting the United States, Canada and Jamaica. She returned to England for a brief period, before setting off for Brazil where she stayed for 8 months and completed over 100 paintings. In 1875, she crossed the American continent on her way to Japan, returning home in 1877 via Sarawak, Java and Sri Lanka. Six months later, she travelled to India, where she stayed for 15 months and produced over 200 paintings.
After a successful exhibition of her paintings in a London gallery in 1879, Miss North conceived the idea of presenting them to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She also generously offered to provide a suitable building in which to display them and asked her friend, the architectural historian, James Fergusson, to design the Gallery. Then, at the suggestion of Charles Darwin, Miss North visited Australia and New Zealand. On her return she spent a year arranging the paintings in the Gallery, which was opened to the public in June 1882.
Miss North continued to embark on further journeys. Just 2 months after the opening of her Gallery, she travelled to South Africa, where many more paintings were undertaken. In 1883, she was in the Seychelles and in 1884, despite ill-health, she was painting plants in Chile. These additional works were added to the Gallery, which today houses 832 of her oil paintings.
Marianne North retired to Alderley, Gloucestershire, where she died on 30 August 1890. The centenary of her death was commemorated in the book Marianne North at Kew Gardens.
Custodial HistoryUnknown except for MN/1/2, which was purchased at auction on 16 March 1989
SeriesThe collection consists of 2 series - MN/1 - Correspondence and MN/2-General papers
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged into two series the first of which contains correspondence, whilst the second relates to the North Gallery.
FormatManuscript papers, plans
Physical DescriptionThe collection consists of manuscript papers some of which have been bound in volumes and flat plans
Related MaterialSome correspondence from Marianne North is contained within other series:-
1/ Letters to Lady Hooker and J D Hooker Vol 3 (JAC-PUT): c. after 1877(ff 892-899) This volume contains 2 letters to J.D. Hooker's second wife dated 19 and 24 May (no year), which were written from Rougham, Norfolk, inviting the Hookers to stay with her. (Location ref. L10/4)
2/ Letters to J D Duthie Vol 2 (GAN-YOU) contains 3 letters from Marianne North. These are undated but are probably late 19th C. Made available on Microfilm
3/ Letters to W Botting Hemsley Vol 2. c.1882-1883. This volume contains 50 letters, mostly undated by year, which were written primarily from Miss North's home in Victoria Street, London, prior to leaving for the Seychelles in September 1883. The first letter is dated 9 Oct 1882 and was written from Cape Town. These letters are primarily concerned with her ongoing painting & the creation of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens, relating to both the design of the Gallery and the associated catalogue. Miss North had catalogued her paintings and botanist W.B. Hemsley (1843-1924) assisted her by correcting many of the plants and completing the task of scientifically identifying them. (Location ref. L12/5)
4/ Directors' Correspondence: Vol.97 ff.159-189 (c.1879-1889); Vol.151 f.842 (c.late 19th century); Vol.188 ff.518-521 (1884) : (made available on microfilm).
5/ Manuscript draft for the 7th edition of the Official Guide (1960) : (KH3 prev. ref. K148)
6/ Official North Gallery Guides/Catalogue -editions 4 (1886), 5 (1892) & 6 (1914) : (KD4 prev. ref. K148)
7/ Various books about Marianne North are held in the Main Library at RBG Kew (see library catalogue).
8/ Goods Inwards volume 1884-1887 a record of plants sent by Miss North f.420, and volume 1888-1892 (f.59).
CopiesMN/1/3: Letters to the Shaen family are photocopies of the original documents held in MN/1/2. Microfilm copies exist for MN/1/4: Kew, North Gallery (1879-1896) and MN/2/3: North Gallery (1882-1938); whilst MN/1/2/10: a letter to Dr. Allman from Praslin has been digitised and is available on CD.

Show related Persons records.

DS/UK/88North; Marianne (1830-1890); Miss1830-1890
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