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Unturned Leaves Early Women in Botanical Illustration

Sarah Anne Drake

Sarah Anne Drake became perhaps the most prolific botanical illustrator of the 19th century, yet very few details of her life are known in the current era. She is tied to the London University botanist John Lindley, having lived in his house possibly as a governess and having created illustrations for vast quantities of Lindley's works.

Credited as S.A. Drake or, more commonly, Miss Drake, she produced over 1,000 illustrations for Edwards's Botanical Register between 1830 and 1847 (while Lindley was its editor) as well as plates for James Bateman's Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, Nathaniel Wallich's Plantae Asiaticae Rariores, and Lindley's Ladies Botany. When the Botanical Register went out of business in 1847, Drake moved away from London and published no more illustrations before her death in 1857.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has published a blog post from the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew on their work to preserve and spread appreciation for women illustrators like Sarah Anne Drake and her contemporaries. Our hope is that this exhibit helps expand the effort to give these women the time in the sun that they have so long deserved.

The works presented here are taken from Lindley's Ladies Botany and Edwards's Botanical Register.