"Elizabeth shared all she knew about the history of each flower she featured in her dictionary.
Gardeners adored her book.
It was republished every two years."
January 30, 1784
On this day, the American Floral Dictionary author Elizabeth Wirt was born.
Elizabeth was the second wife of William Wirt, who served as an attorney general of the United States.
They had ten children.
In 1829, Elizabeth wrote her floral dictionary.
She published it anonymously, using the very mysterious name ‘by a Lady.’
Elizabeth featured lovely tidbits in her dictionary - quotes and prose by poets and writers accompanied the information for each plant.
Her dictionary also included extraneous information that would be of interest to gardeners in the early to mid-1800s: the Structure of Plants, the Structure of Flowers, and a sketch of the Life of Linnaeus.
Elizabeth shared all she knew about the history of each flower she featured in her dictionary.
Gardeners adored her book. It was republished every two years.
In the 1835 edition, Elizabeth finally felt confident enough to publish the book using her name, "Mrs. E. W. Wirt of Virginia.”
The final edition of her book was published in 1855 and was one of the first books to feature colored plates.
You can see a copy of Elizabeth Wirt's dictionary online for free.