Pratt, Anne (DNB00)

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PRATT, ANNE, afterwards Mrs. Pearless (1806–1893), botanist, born on 5 Dec. 1806 in Strood, Kent, was the second of three daughters of Robert Pratt (1777–1819), a wholesale grocer of that town, by his wife, Sarah Bundock (1780–1845), of Huguenot descent. Her childhood and youth were passed at Chatham, whither her father had removed, and she was educated by Mrs. Roffey at the Eastgate House school, Rochester. Her delicate health rendering her unfit for active pursuits, she devoted herself to literary study. A Scottish friend, Dr. Dods, undertook to teach her botany, and she soon became an ardent student. Aided by her elder sister, who collected for her, she formed an extensive herbarium, and supplemented her collection by making sketches of the specimens. The drawings afterwards formed illustrations for her books.

She left Chatham in 1846, and went to reside with friends at Brixton and other places, but subsequently settled at Dover in 1849. There she wrote her principal work, ‘The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Great Britain.’ Other changes of residence followed.

On 4 Dec. 1866 she was married to John Pearless of East Grinstead, Sussex. She resided there for two and a half years. They settled for some years at Redhill, Surrey. She died on 27 July 1893 at Rylett Road, Shepherd's Bush, London.

Although her works were written in popular style, they were fairly accurate, and were instrumental in spreading a knowledge and love of botany, and were at one time acknowledged by a grant from the civil list. They were:

  1. ‘The Field, the Garden, and the Woodland. … By a Lady,’ 16mo, London, 1838; 3rd edit. 12mo, London (Knight's monthly volume), 1847.
  2. ‘Flowers and their Associations,’ 8vo, London, 1840; 2nd edit. (Knight's weekly volume), 1846.
  3. ‘Dawnings of Genius, or the Early Lives of some Eminent Persons of the Last Century,’ 8vo, London, 1841.
  4. ‘The Pictorial Catechism of Botany,’ 16mo, London, 1842.
  5. ‘The Excellent Woman, as described in the Book of Proverbs,’ 16mo [London, 1846] [anon.].
  6. ‘Wild Flowers of the Year,’ 16mo, London [1846?].
  7. ‘Garden Flowers of the Year,’ 16mo, London [1847].
  8. ‘Chapters on Common Things of the Seaside,’ 8vo, London, 1850.
  9. ‘Wild Flowers,’ 2 vols. 16mo, London, 1852; 2nd edition [1892?].
  10. ‘The Green Fields and their Grasses,’ 8vo, London, 1852.
  11. ‘Our Native Songsters,’ 16mo, London, 1852.
  12. ‘The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Great Britain,’ 5 vols. 8vo, London [1855]; 3rd edit. 1873.
  13. ‘The Ferns of Great Britain and their Allies,’ 8vo, London [1855]; 2nd edit. 1871.
  14. ‘The Poisonous, Noxious, and Suspected Plants of our Fields and Woods,’ 8vo, London [1857]; 2nd edit. [1866].
  15. ‘The British Grasses and Sedges,’ &c., 8vo, London [1859].
  16. ‘Haunts of the Wild Flowers,’ 8vo, London, 1863.

She also edited ‘By Daylight,’ 8vo, London, 1865, a translation of Ottilie Wildermuth's ‘Im Tageslicht.’

[Women's Penny Paper, 9 Nov. 1889, with portrait; Journ. Bot. 1894, pp. 205–7; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Cat.; information kindly supplied by Mrs. Pearless's niece, Mrs. Wells.]

B. B. W.