Monday, December 14, 2015

Vere Lucy Temple (1889-1981): a forgotten, gifted entomologist and illustrator


These very attractive plates are from a book called Butterflies and Moths of Britain, written and illustrated by Vere Lucy Temple and published in 1945. 


I bought a copy in a second-hand bookshop about fifty years ago and have always liked the way that the plates were drawn, with the coloured butterflies portrayed against line drawings of their food plants, usually with the larvae and pupae.


It's difficult to find much information about Temple, who was born in 1898 and is thought to have died in 1981. She specialised in natural history and animal painting and seems to have been in demand in the 1920s and 1930s, when she exhibited in leading galleries.

She wrote and illustrated seven books and illustrated five others. All her original work seems to have been auctioned in numerous lots after her death. On the strength of these attractive butterfly and moth illustrations, she deserves to be more widely known. 


Vere Lucy Temple was a Fellow of the Royal Entomology Society, which explains why the text of her book is so full of perceptive detail, but it's also a very lively, personal and engaging account that conveys her passion for butterflies. 

In her preface she acknowledges help and advice from several eminent lepidopterists and scientists of her day and also refers to what was, then, cutting-edge research on insect vision and behaviour.










































21 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing these lovely illustrations. I'm wondering if you know anything about Dorothy Hodges who wrote The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee in 1952? I can't find any info, apart from what is in a later edition of the book.

    Cheers,
    Lori

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    1. I don't know anything about her, Lori, but I will try to find out more ....

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  2. A true artist. Exceptional illustrations.

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    1. Judging from the text, she also did a lot of butterfly watching, Keith ...

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  3. What a wonderful post - so interesting and the illustrations are just beautiful.

    Somewhere in a storage box I have a book by her on Pond Life which I was given as a child - I must find it :)

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    1. Thanks - I noticed her book about drawing pond life on Abe Books - sounds interesting!

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    2. Will tweet some photos when I find it but maybe after Christmas now to help you make a decision :)

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    3. So sorry about the delay - I've finally found the book! Published 1956, 64 pages and the illustrations are beautiful but not in colour. I am not sure how I stand re: copyright laws due to publication date about tweeting a few photos? I was given the book as a child by an aunt so am not sure how much it costs secondhand today but it is a charming book.

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  4. Absolutely fantastic illustrations, the detail is incredibly fine. Vere Lucy Temple is a talent who should be more widely known and appreciated

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    1. She seems to have been quite well known in her day. She even illustrated a book by Enid Blyton

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  5. Simply gorgeous. Oh to have looked over her shoulder as she worked... Apologies if I've littered your blog with this link before, your post reminded me of a special encounter... https://uphilldowndale.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/something-special/

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    1. That's lovely - I wish I had those kinds of skills with a paintbrush. I really admire David Measures' work - I have a copy of his Bright Wings of Summer

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    2. He told me at the time he was working on a book about the 'jizz' of butterflies, how to identify them by their movements. I don't know if this was published

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    3. There's mention in his obituary of another book, called Butterfly Season: 1984 - I'll look out for it http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/aug/12/david-measures-obituary

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  6. What a beautiful book, you are a lucky man to have a copy,

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    1. There seem to be a few copies about still for not much money

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  7. I especially like the effect of the color against the plain backgrounds of the habitat, like the butterflies have actually just landed on the page.

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    1. That's exactly what delights me about them, Kate. The come alive on the page ....

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