Henrietta Beaufort

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Henrietta Beaufort (1778–1865), earlier Harriet Beaufort, was a botanist born of Anglo-French parents in Ireland. Her Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons was published in 1819 and aimed to teach plant biology to young readers.


In her Dialogues on Botany, Beaufort considered it important to delay the teachings of the Linnaean system of classification until she had first provided the basis, physiology.[1] There were no pictures in her book, because she thought it was important for readers to study nature and not the representation of it. She was criticized by contemporaries for this.

In 1829 John Murray published her Bertha’s Journal, without her name appearing as author.[2]


Beaufort’s father, the Reverend Daniel Beaufort, a founding member of the Royal Irish Academy, was her inspiration to become a scientist. She had two sisters, Frances and Louisa, and a brother, Francis. Her whole family was interested or connected to science. Both Henrietta and Louisa wrote books in the hope of supporting their family after their father gave up his clerical position and found himself with lots of debt.[3]

When her brother Francis's confidential diary was decoded, after their deaths, it revealed feelings of guilt he felt over having an incestuous relationship with Henrietta.[4]


  • Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons (London, 1819)[5]
  • Bertha's Journal (London: John Murray, 1829)[5]


  1. ^ Marilyn B. Ogilvie, The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century, Volume 1 (2000), p. 100
  2. ^ E. C. Patterson, Mary Somerville and the Cultivation of Science, 1815–1840 (2012), pp. 74 & 237
  3. ^ Harvey, Joy (2000). Women in Science. New York: Routledge. pp. 99–100. ISBN 0-415-92038-8.
  4. ^ Alfred Friendly, Beaufort of the Admiralty, Hutchinson, 1977
  5. ^ a b Ray Desmond, ed., “BEAUFORT, Henrietta (olim Harriet) (1778-1865)” in Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, p. 59