Wild Flowers

Emily Carr, Illustrated by Emily Henrietta Woods


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In this previously unpublished collection, Emily Carr offers delightfully evocative impressions of native flowers and shrubs. She wrote these short pieces later in life and they rekindled in her strong childhood memories and associations. She delights in the brightness of buttercups that “let Spring’s secret out”, muses over the hardiness of stonecrop (“How any plant can grow on bare rock and be so fleshy leafed and fat is a marvel.”) and declares that “botanical science has un-skunked the skunk cabbage”. Carr’s playful words often bring a smile to readers. About catnip, she writes: “I did think it was kind of God to make a special flower for cats.”

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2006, paperback, 96 pages

colour illustrations

ISBN 978-0-7726-5453-3

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Wild Flowers is illustrated with beautiful watercolours of wild plants by Emily Henrietta Woods, one of Carr’s childhood drawing teachers in Victoria. The originals of Carr’s manuscript and Woods’ botanical illustrations reside in collections of the BC Archives; neither have been published until now.

In a brief Foreword and Afterword, archivist and historian Kathryn Bridge gives context to Wild Flowers within the body of Carr’s previously published writings. “Woods’ paintings fit so well with Carr’s text,” writes Bridge in the Foreword. “It’s serendipity that Woods taught Carr and that we have her art and Carr’s manuscript in the Archives’ collection, and that neither have been published before now.”


About the Author

Emily Carr (1871–1945) is one of Canada’s best-known painters and an award-winning author of several books. She exhibited artistic talent from an early age and attended art school in Victoria. One of her childhood teachers was Emily H. Woods, the illustrator of this book.

Carr did not begin writing in earnest until later in life. As Kathryn Bridge explains in the foreword to this book, “Emily Carr composed the 21 vignettes that make up Wild Flowers during the autumn and winter of 1940-41, when she was mostly housebound, recuperating from a stroke suffered the previous June. She had also endured an angina attack in 1937 and a more serious heart attack in 1939. While spending many weeks in hospital recovering from these earlier ailments, she turned to writing, and wrote most of what would later be her first book, Klee Wyck, drafts for her autobiography, and other stories. Published in 1941, Klee Wyck won a Governor General’s literary award.

Also by Emily Carr:
Sister and I from Victoria to London
Studio Billie’s Calendar


About the Illustrator

Emily Henrietta Woods (1852-1916) was born in Ireland and moved with her family to Victoria at age 13. She became a talented artist and taught drawing at Angela College, an Anglican girls school, and at Mrs Cridge’s School for Girls. Woods made it her life’s work to paint more than 200 life-size, botanically accurate watercolours of wildflowers, each identified with their common and scientific names – some of these are featured in this book. She also composed landscapes in pencil and watercolours.



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