Friday, March 25, 2016

The Life and Times of Mary Vaux Walcott by Marjorie G. Jones

book cover
The Life and Times of Mary Vaux Walcott
by Marjorie G. Jones

ISBN-13: 9780764349720
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Released: March 18, 2016
Book page on publisher's website

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Known as the Audubon of Botany, Philadelphia Quaker Mary Morris Vaux Walcott (1860-1940) was a gifted artist whose stunning watercolors comprise a catalog of North American wildflowers. Walcott was catapulted to the highest levels of society and national politics by a late and bold marriage to the secretary of the Smithsonian.

Along with an early (1887) transcontinental travelogue, never-before published correspondence with fellow Quaker and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, and Commissioner Mary Walcott's reports for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, this biography reveals rich intersections of history, religion, politics, women's studies, science, and art during the transformative times in which she lived.

My Review:
The Life and Times of Mary Vaux Walcott is a collection of letters, journal entries, and newspaper reports that provide insight into Mary's life and times (1860-1940). Apparently there wasn't much material for her childhood and early adulthood, so we're told about the Quakers and where she lived along with people she might have come in contact. Throughout the book, we're told about some other women explorers and naturalists (some of whom she knew) and challenges that they faced.

Mary frequently traveled in the USA and Canada, so we're provided with some letters about her travels and mountain climbing. Late in life, she defied her father's expectations that she'd remain single to care for him. We're provided with letters of her father complaining to friends and excerpts from her husband's diary about their life together. There's a chapter about how her wildflower watercolors gained fame. Another was of her letters to Lou Hoover, and they talked about the politics of the time. Another focused on her comments relating to her work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The book included some black and white photos of various people, a couple sketches, and about 15 of the wildflower watercolor paintings. It read more like a journal than a typical biography. Also, Mary's life was presented by themes (1887 travelogue, correspondence with Lou Hoover, etc.), so some aspects of her life weren't described. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in women explorers and naturalists from this time period.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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