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December 17, 2009

Wild About Charlie

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. 
Andre Michaux

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. 

Charlie Williams as himself

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)
Stowe Botanical Garden 
American Philosphical Society
Bartram Gardens

1 comment:

  1. That is absolutely terrific! I have a historical novel (The Fairest Portion of the Globe) coming out in February in which Andre Michaux is one of the main characters. I hope I get to meet Charlie sometime and see him perform. This man is a very underrated and misunderstood figure in early American history -- congratulations Charlie, and thank you CC for the post!