Helena Scott

Australian Museum1832/1910

Australian Museum

Australian Museum

Helena (Nellie) Scott was born in Sydney, Australia in 1832. She grew up in Sydney and on Ash Island in the Hunter River near Newcastle. By the time she was a teenager she was a skilled natural history artist, scientific observer and naturalist. She lived with her family on Ash Island for 20 years, working with her sister Harriet to collect and study the island’s plants, butterflies and moths and paint the exquisitely detailed watercolours for their father’s book on Australian butterflies and moths, ‘Australian Lepidoptera and Their Transformations’ (1864-1898). In 1864, the same year as the book’s publication, Helena married Edward Forde and left the island. Tragically, Forde died only two years later and Helena returned to live with her family in Sydney. Helena never remarried and for the rest of her life supported herself with her artistic and scientific skills. She worked for a decade through the 1890s to make sure that her father’s legacy was secure with the publication of the second volume of ‘Australian Lepidoptera’. Helena was still actively seeking work in her 70s and she died in Sydney in 1910.

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  • Title: Helena Scott
  • Creator: Australian Museum
  • Date: 1832/1910
  • Medium: Photograph