Fawcett's Illustrations

Priscilla Fawcett's Illustrations for Flora of the Bahama Archipelago

By Janet Mosely

Priscilla Fawcett
Ms. Priscilla Fawcett
Flora of the Bahama Archipelago dust cover
Flora of the Bahama Archipalago dust dover
Alaska Highway Adventure map
Dr. Donovan Correll also asked Ms. Fawcett to illustrate his self-published narrative Alaska Highway Adventure (1981), based on a 1943 survey trip he did as a member of a group of Harvard University botanists and geologists. They surveyed the then newly constructed Alcan Highway in that state. Ms. Fawcett's work on the Alaska book included drawing a map of the group's route, and her style is evident in its combination of accuracy and visual attractiveness. Her original drawing of the map is part of Fairchild's Priscilla Fawcett Collection.

The Flora of the Bahama Archipelago will be 30 years old in 2012.  For a scientific work to still be relevant after three decades is a testimony to the thoroughness and good fieldwork of Drs. Donovan and Helen Correll.  But the book's enduring value can also be credited to illustrations done by Priscilla Fawcett, who was the Garden's botanic illustrator from 1965 to 1989. 

Ms. Fawcett collaborated with the Corrells for approximately six years on drawings of their collected specimens. In fact, the bulk of the Priscilla Fawcett Collection of Botanical Illustrations was done for the Flora. Working from either live or herbarium specimens collected by the Correll’s during their many trips to the Bahama Archipelago, she illustrated one representative specie from each genus covered in the book.  A single illustration could take several months to complete,  as it included each stage of the plant’s life cycle. Her drawings showed the flower as a whole and in cross-section along with the ovary and the fruit, as shown in the illustrations included here. 

In the Forward to the Flora of the Bahama Archipelago, Donovan Correll wrote:  “The privilege of having Priscilla Fawcett do the art work for our flora was unquestionably the deciding factor that enticed us to work on this project.  We envisioned having the availability of her unique talent as a distinct opportunity to produce a work that would be universally useful.  There is no question whatsoever that our major contribution is the making available to our colleagues and posterity Priscilla’s superb drawings.”

Ms. Fawcett's much valued talents extended to watercolor. Her illustraiton of Tecoma stans, National Flower of the Bahamas, graces the dust jacket of the Corrells' book, as seen here.

A listing of the 1,187 pen and ink drawings as well as 26 watercolors done by Ms. Fawcett while she was Fairchild's botanical illustrator can be found here.  

Coccothrinax argentata
Coccothrinax argentata, the silver thatch palm
Swietenia mahagoni (ovary) Swietenia mahagoni (fruit)
Swietenia mahagoni (ovary), the West Indian mahogany Swietenia mahagoni (fruit), the West Indian mahogany

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Please contact:
Nancy Korber
Librarian/Archivist
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
library@fairchildgarden.org
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424
fax 305/665-8032