Margaret Mee, 79; British Explorer, Botanical Artist
Botanical artist and explorer Margaret Mee, who braved blood-sucking gnats, malaria and drunken gold prospectors in pursuit of rare flowers in the deepest Amazonian rain forests, died in a car accident, her family said.
Mrs. Mee was 79. She was killed Wednesday in an auto crash near Seagrave in central England, her family announced.
Since 1952, she and her second husband, Greville Mee, had lived in Rio de Janeiro. She had recently returned to Britain to open an exhibition of her paintings at the Royal Botanic Gardens in West London and to mark the publication last month of her diaries, “In Search of the Flowers of the Amazon Forests,” and to make a lecture tour.
Mrs. Mee made the first of her 15 Amazon expeditions in 1956 to observe, collect and paint flowers. Her final trip there was last May when she traveled to the Igapo forest on Brazil’s Rio Negro to paint the rare, night-blooming Amazonian moonflower.
“As I stood there with the dim outline of the forest all around, I was spellbound. Then the first petal began to move and then another as the flower burst into life,” she wrote in her diaries.
Mrs. Mee also became a leader in the campaign to conserve the rain forests and protect the forest Indians. In 1986, she was made a member of the Linnean Society, the prestigious botanical society named after the 18th-Century Swedish botanist Carl von Linne.
She is survived by her husband.