The Snakes that Hattie & Helena Scott drew in 1869.

Harriet (1830-1907) and Helena (1832-1910), artists and naturalists, were born in Sydney, Helena on 11 April 1832. Educated by their father on Ash Island, they acquired a considerable knowledge of Australian plants, animals and insects. They collected for and corresponded with leading colonial scientists. Their many paintings of Australian insects earned high praise from members of the Entomological Society and after the publication of Australian Lepidoptera they were elected honorary members.

In 1864 Helena married Edward Forde and next year accompanied him on a survey of the Darling River between Wentworth and Bourke. She made a collection of fodder grasses and of specimens for her proposed ‘Flora of the Darling’, but Forde died of fever at Menindee on 20 June 1866 and she returned to Sydney, transferring her collections to Rev. William Woolls, who used them for a section of his Contribution to the Flora of Australia (Sydney, 1867). Harriet and Helena received commissions from the Macleays, William Macarthur, E. P. Ramsay, and Sir Terence Murray and for some years provided almost all the figures for the scientific literature produced in Sydney, notably J. C. Cox’s Monograph of Australian Land Shells (1868) and Krefft’s Snakes of Australia (1869) and Mammals of Australia (1871). They also designed Christmas cards with Australian themes for commercial production, while Harriet’s drawings of native flowers and ferns graced the 1884 and 1886 editions of The Railway Guide of New South Wales.

In 1882 Harriet married Dr Cosby William Morgan but the marriage was unhappy. She died at Granville on 16 August 1907. Helena, whose letters reminded Murray of ‘what letter writing was in the Augustan days of England’, died at Harris Park on 24 November 1910










November 2018.




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