A Lady’s Pen – The Botanical Letters of Georgiana Molloy

‘A Lady’s Pen’ provides the first complete, unedited transcriptions of the surviving botanical letters of Georgiana Molloy, the first woman in WA to become an internationally successful collector. It perfectly accompanies the biography ‘The Mind That Shines (Picador 2016), completing the detail of Molloy’s work in the last six years of her life as she grew in skill and knowledge. But it’s the wildflowers of WA’s southwest are the main characters here, through the stories of their incredible journeys through time and across oceans.

Self-taught and never recognised during her lifetime as anything more than an amateur, Molloy sent three exquisite collections of native plants and seeds from Undalup and Taalinup (Busselton and Augusta) to James Mangles in London, between 1837 and 1842. They are still studied today in world herbariums.

The letters are complemented by chapters that explain and explore the content, and provide background, celebrating her writing and achievement in the face of great adversity. New information reveals that she was overlooked both deliberately and accidentally because she was a woman.

The first comprehensive, indexed list of the species she collected includes plants not previously attributed to her. Research anecdotes convey the excitement of new discoveries about her work. A chapter on the surprising, intriguing life of James Mangles helps to reinstate the voice that’s been missing for a hundred and eighty years from the long-distance, written conversation that created Molloy’s letters. Other, previously unpublished, letters are included for comparison and 240 detailed endnotes provide sources and additional information.

With thirty-two, all new, full colour pages, ‘A lady’s Pen’ will appeal to researchers as well as a very wide audience of general readers with an interest in gardening, plants, history and botany.