15 February 2015

Emily Mary Sharpe - entomologist 

Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe was the first woman to first author a paper in Proceedings of the Zoological Society. Paving a way for women in science, look back at illustrations from her book -  A monograph of the genus Teracolus. 

Colour illustrations of the genus Teracolus in Plate 1 of Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe's Monograph of the species. T. Calais, T. amatus, T. crowleyi. Lithographed by M. Horman Fisher

Emily Sharpe’s first authored paper is featured in the open access virtual issue of Journal of Zoology on women and zoology, it is titled Descriptions of New Butterflies collected by Mr. F. J. Jackson, F.Z.S., in British East Africa, during his recent Expedition.—Part I.

Lithograph of Teracolus bacchus, Plate 24 in monograph of the genus by Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe. Lithograph by M. Horman Fisher.

She was one of the 10 daughters of ZSL’s first Librarian, Richard Bowdler Sharpe who was instrumental in encouraging women to work in zoology.  Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe is also sometimes referred to as Emily Mary Sharpe. Her sisters worked as valued colourists in many of the illustrated natural history books of the nineteenth century. It was essential for the colouring to be correct, particularly for identification of bird species. The accuracy of their work was appreciated by the artists of the original drawings from which prints were made.

All the illustrations on this page are by Maud Horman-Fisher.

Further reading:

Journal of Zoology virtual issue on women and zoology, including the paper first authored by a woman in PZS,  Descriptions of New Butterflies collected by Mr. F. J. Jackson, F.Z.S., in British East Africa, during his recent Expedition.—Part I.  March 1891,  Proceedings of the Zoological Society  Vol. 59 Issue 2, pages 187 -194 .

As John Bielby states in his editorial for the Journal of Zoology Virtual issue

`Although the specimens were collected by a man, in the 19th Century it became increasingly common for women to describe the specimens, thereby doing the actual science.’ 

A monograph of the genus Teracolus / by Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe, London : Reeve, 1898[-1902] (Monographiae entomologicae ; 1)

Richard Bowdler Sharpe and his ten daughters / by Christine E. Jackson in Archives of Natural History, 1994, Volume 21, Issue 3, Pages 261-269, ISSN 0260-9541

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