The Quiet Botanist – Ellen Hutchins

 I am Ellen Hutchins, born on March 17, 1785, in the serene surroundings of Ballylickey, County Cork, Ireland. As the second youngest of six children in a well-off family, my early years were marked by comfort, though my father’s death introduced us to financial struggles. I took on many household responsibilities to help my family, but amidst these duties, I discovered a profound love for the natural world around me.
 My health has always been fragile, and during my periods of illness, I found great solace in studying plants. It was during these quiet times that my passion for botany blossomed. Dr. Whitley Stokes, a family friend and physician, noticed my interest and generously provided me with books and guidance.
Through Dr. Stokes, I had the fortune of connecting with some of the era’s most respected botanists, including James Townsend Mackay and Dawson Turner.
 Despite my health challenges and the demands of family life, I devoted myself to the meticulous collection and documentation of plant specimens. My focus was primarily on mosses, liverworts, algae, and lichens. The thrill of discovering new species invigorated me, and some of my discoveries were honored with my name, like the genus *Hutchinsia*.
 My work was not without its challenges. I often ventured into remote and difficult environments to gather specimens, driven by an unyielding curiosity and dedication to my studies.
The correspondence I maintained with leading botanists of my time provided both intellectual stimulation and recognition of my contributions. Regrettably, my life was brief.
On February 9, 1815, at the age of 29, my journey came to an end. Yet, I take pride in knowing that my efforts left a lasting imprint on the field of botany.
My collections and letters continue to offer valuable insights into the rich botanical diversity of Ireland during my lifetime.
 Today, my work is celebrated and remembered, especially during the annual Ellen Hutchins Festival in West Cork.
My story is one of passion and perseverance, a testament to the wonders of the natural world and the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that defined my life.


All the designs for her dress and the sea are taken from seaweed, some from Ellen’s own botanical drawings
 The sky is full of coastal birds and the sand made up from pebble textiles. Her windswept hair is from the wind off the sea.
 “The Quiet Botanist”
Acrylic on box canvas
40cm x 50cm