Anna Maria Hussey

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Anna Maria Hussey, née Reed (5 June 1805 – 26 August 1853) was a British mycologist, writer, and illustrator.

Family and background[edit]

Anna Maria Reed was born in Leckhampstead, Buckinghamshire, one of seven children of Rev. John Theodore Archibald Reed, rector of Leckhampstead, and Anna Maria Dayrell. In 1831 she married Rev. Dr Thomas John Hussey, rector of Hayes, Kent, who was a well-connected astronomer. They had six children, one of whom was also given the name Anna Maria Hussey. Only two survived to adulthood.[1]

In the 1840s, she contributed writings (possibly including a romantic serial) to The Surplice, a magazine edited by her husband. She also wrote at least one less romantic story, called 'Matrimony', for Frazer's Magazine — but all these pieces were anonymous, following the conventions of the time.[2]

Collecting and illustrating fungi[edit]

Morchella esculenta illustrated by Anna Maria Hussey

Anna Maria Hussey had an interest in natural history and knew Charles Darwin at nearby Down House. One of her brothers, George Varenne Reed, became tutor to Darwin's sons.[2] Hussey (together with her younger sister, Frances Reed) developed an expertise in fungi, corresponding with and sending specimens to the leading mycologist of the day, Rev. Miles Joseph Berkeley.[3] Hussey's approach to mycology came from the artistic end, rather than from the scientific fields of systematics, field work, or microscopy.[4] She and her sister made watercolour paintings of some of the species they encountered and in 1847 a number of Hussey's illustrations were published as plates in A treatise on the esculent funguses of England by Charles David Badham. These went uncredited, however, as noted by a contemporary reviewer.[5]

At the same time, she produced (as Mrs T. J. Hussey) the first volume of an ambitious and expensive work entitled Illustrations of British Mycology, containing 90 colour plates of species collected and illustrated by herself or by her sister, together with descriptions, personal observations, anecdotes, and comments. A second volume of 50 colour plates was published posthumously in 1855, cut short by her early death.[6] The two volumes, especially the illustrations, were well received and praised for their "scientific accuracy" as well as their "artistic elegance".[7]

Berkeley named a fungal genus Husseia after "my friend, Mrs Hussey, whose talents well deserve such a distinction"[8] (though the later Husseya J. Agardh, a genus of seaweeds named after Australian collector Jessie Hussey, has been conserved against it). Berkeley also named an agaric species, illustrated in volume two of Illustrations of British Mycology, Cortinarius reediae, after Frances Reed.[9] Their specimens of fungi sent to Berkeley are now in the mycological herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Recent exhibition and publications[edit]

In recent years, Anna Maria Hussey has attracted attention as a Victorian, female, scientific illustrator and was one of twelve such artists featured in a 2005 'Women's Work' exhibition staged in the United States by the Linda Hall Library and Missouri Botanical Garden Library.[3] Her correspondence with Berkeley has also been published[10] and she has recently received an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.[2]


  1. ^ The People of Tingewick
  2. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ a b "Anna Maria Hussey". Linda Hall Library. Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  4. ^ 1941-, Shteir, Ann B., (1996). Cultivating women, cultivating science : Flora's daughters and botany in England, 1760-1860. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801861758. OCLC 32469608. 
  5. ^ Anon. (1847). Bibliographical notices. Annals and magazine of natural history 20: 128–129
  6. ^ Hussey, A.M. [as Mrs T. J. Hussey] (1847-1855). Illustrations of British Mycology. Vols 1 & 2. London: Reeve & Co.
  7. ^ Anon. (1850). Badham and Hussey on the fungi. The Eclectic Review 490–512
  8. ^ Berkeley, M.J. (1847). Decades of fungi. London J. Bot. p. 509
  9. ^ Hussey, Anna Maria (1847–1855). Illustrations of British mycology. London: Reeve, Benham and Reeve. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.3606. Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Shteir, A.B. (1996). Correspondence from Anna Maria Hussey to Miles Joseph Berkeley in Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England, 1760-1860. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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