Graphical version

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Faulkner, Helen (1888-1979)


Reference code(s): GB 0068 GRI

Held at: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Title: Faulkner, Helen (1888-1979)

Date(s): 1938-1979

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 5 boxes

Name of creator(s): Faulkner | Helen | 1888-1979 | botanist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Helen Faulkner was born in Yorkshire in June 1888. She studied art and painting in Paris. She married Major Faulkner in 1921 in Hampshire and moved to Tasmania where her husband owned a small farm. In 1924 they moved to Tanganyika where Major Faulkner was employed by Bird and Co. He then transferred to Wigglesworth and Co in Angola. Helen Faulkner was so impressed by the rich flora of the Alto Catumbela that she started to systematically paint water colour sketches of wild flowers. She became acquainted with the Government Botanist John Gossweiler who encouraged her to make herbarium specimens of the highest quality. In 1942 Major Faulkner was posted to the Namagoa Plantations at Mocuba in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique. Soon Helen Faulkner was collecting actively and corresponding with the National Herbarium, Pretoria, and the Government Herbarium, Salisbury.

In 1947 she visited Kew and began a long partnership with Edgar Milne-Redhead then in charge of the African Section. The collaboration started with three cases of Mozambique plants, bulbs and seeds as well as loan of notes and paintings. She continued to send specimens to RBGK until 1977. In 1950 Major Faulkner returned to the Tanga area and managed sisal estates for Bird and Co at Bushiri (1950-1951), Kange (1951-1952) and Magunga until he retired in 1954. They then bought a house in Mwambani, where Helen Faulkner remained for the rest of her life apart from five years spent in Zanzibar (1959-1964) where Major Faulkner managed the English Club. Major Faulkner died in 1969. She died at her home on 26 January 1979. She had two sons Denis and Ian.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Helen Faulkner, 1938-1979, 20 water colour sketchbooks, 3 folders of notes relating to the sketchbooks, 3 boxes of index cards and 1 folder of preparatory notes for index and lists of determinations.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The collection has been arranged into three series with FAU/1 containing the sketchbooks, FAU/2 consisting of H Faulkner's notes on the plants she collected and FAU/3 related to the index to her sketchbooks elaborated at Kew.

Conditions governing access:

Unrestricted - surrogates to be used where available.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue available, contact the archives for more details.


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Helen Faulkner started sending specimens and paintings to RBGK in 1947 until 1977. In 1968 she donated eleven then seven of her earlier sketchbooks to the library and another one in 1972. At her death some sketches and notebooks found in her personal papers were transferred to RBGK.


Related material:

See also in the Archives: Registered File QG 859 and 859A, correspondence between Helen Faulkner and RBGK's staff; E Milne-Redhead Misc Corresp FAI-FAU (2739-3172), Correspondence with Helen Faulkner. In the Library: 920 FAU, interview of Helen Faulkner dated 1975 in the biograhical pamphlets section. In Illustrations: about 140 references to loose drawings; many specimens in the Herbarium.


Archivist's note: Entry transcribed by Sarah Drewery, March 2011.

Rules or conventions: General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2011

Flowers | Plant products | Agricultural products
Watercolour painting | Painting | Fine arts

Personal names
Faulkner | Helen | 1888-1979 | botanist

Corporate names