Charlie Williams and his wife Lydia are public library
Librarians from North Carolina, now retired.
When Charlie discovered my picture book, REDOUTÈ,
The Man Who Painted Flowers, at an exhibition of work
by another botanical artist, Mark Catesby, he wrote to
me suggesting Catesby as subject for a future book.
He also mentioned his interest in Andre Michaux, one
of Redoutè's outstanding Botanist collaborators.
We finally met when Charlie's Michaux research
brought him to Philadelphia and the American
Philosophical Society. I shared a paper mentioning
Michaux, that I had acquired from its scholar
author during my Redoutè search. Turned out, it
contained information Charlie needed.
When Charlie returned to Phila. with his wife,
Lydia, we enjoyed a visit to Bartram's Gardens,
18th century home of the fascinating John and
William Bartram, America's first Botanists.
Back home in North Carolina in conjunction
with Stowe Botanical Garden, Charlie began
talking to school children about Michaux and
his work in America, particularly North Carolina.
To further children's interest he began dressing
in 18th century costume. As he refined the costume
to look more like an 18th century Botanist
working out in nature, Charlie soon "morphed"
into Andre Michaux telling his own story.
Yesterday's holiday card written by Lydia, contained
the news that Charlie Williams is the 2009 recipient
of the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award of The
Southern Appalachian Botanical Society for distinguished
professional and public service in advancing knowledge
and appreciation of the world of plants. The first non
professional Botanist to win this award. , Lydia writes
that, typically, Charlie was flabbergasted.
Lydia also sent this photo of Michaux's Lily which
unexpectedly bloomed on their mountain property.
They don't know if it bloomed because conditions
were just right or Michaux's spirit was hovering over them.
No doubt in my mind.
(Read Charlie's biography of Andre Michaux)