Scientist of the Day - Henry John Elwes
Henry John Elwes, an English botanist and world-traveler, was born May 16, 1846. Elwes began travelling at an early age, and as his family was well-to-do, he doesn't seem to have spent much time in gainful employment, aside from five years in the Scots Guard. At first he collected insects, but on a visit to the Middle East he took an interest in bulbs, the botanical variety, and when he eventually inherited the family estate of Colesbourne in Gloucestershire in 1891, he would make it the bulb paradise of England. Meanwhile, from 1877-80, he issued in parts his Monograph of the Genus Lilium. This folio-sized work contained 50 large lithographs of lilies, executed by the virtuoso botanical illustrator Walter Hood Fitch, and beautifully hand-colored. We have a complete set in the History of Science Collection, still in the original 7 parts, although the title pages of the individual parts were not retained. But our set has not been digitized, so the first five images above were taken from the online version of the Missouri Botanical Gardens Library.
Aside from lilies, Elwes' other favorite bulb was the snowdrop, and Colesbourne had (and still has) a large snowdrop garden. A species that Elwes discovered in Turkey is named in his honor, Galanthus elwesii (sixth image).
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to email@example.com.