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Thomson, Estelle (1894 - 1953)

Born
1894
Glasgow, Scotland
Died
6 September 1953
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Occupation
Author, Journalist, Naturalist, Photographer and Wildflower artist

Summary

Estelle Thomson was a member of the Queensland Naturalists' Club, contributing flowers, paintings and drawings to the club's annual wildflower show. She published Flowers of Our Bush (1929), a guide to Queensland wildflowers, which described and illustrated coastal species. From 1929 to the 1930s Estelle ran a weekly 'Wildflowers' column in the Brisbane Courier, illustrated by her own line drawings. This was followed by her column 'Nature's Ways' in the Telegraph which she maintained until 1950.

Additionally, Thomson lectured at women's clubs and schools, illustrating her lectures with delicately hand-coloured lantern slides. During the 1940s Estelle gave a series of children's talks on wildflowers on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and produced a series of paintings of poisonous plants for the University of Queensland's Medical School. She deposited specimens in the Queensland Herbarium, including some collected on the Granite Belt and at Caloundra. Estelle was also an expert on Queensland birds.

Details

Estelle Thomson was the daughter of George Comrie-Smith, photographer and artist, and Ethel, nee Thomson. Both her parents were keen naturalists. Estelle's early love of nature was inspired by family visits to the Scottish Highlands and the Lakes District of Cumberland. She was educated at Calder House School at Seascale, Cumberland, and later at a school of physical culture at Dartford, Kent. Estelle was a teacher of physical culture and eurhythmics before her marriage in Glasgow in 1917 to her second cousin, the Queensland surveying engineer Aubrey Frederick Thomson (formerly von Stieglitz), then serving with the Australian Army in Europe during the First World War.

In 1919 Estelle and Aubrey Thomson arrived in Brisbane, later to be followed by her parents. They settled on a farm, Wombo, at Eight Mile Plains south of Brisbane, where they raised poultry and small crops until forced to abandon the venture in 1923. The then unspoilt bush of Eight Mile Plains made a lasting impression on Estelle and she became an active member of the Queensland Naturalists' Club from the 1920s. Estelle was vice-president in 1929-30 and president in 1930-31. She was to spend the rest of her life awakening public appreciation of Australian wildflowers, while also raising her four children.

Sources used to compile this entry: McKay, Judith, Brilliant Careers - Women collectors and illustrators in Queensland, Queensland Museum Publication, South Brisbane, 1997; Mittelheuser, Dr Cathryn AM, Early Days of Brisbane Lyceum, Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated, Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated, Brisbane, 2006, http://www.lyceumbrisbane.org.au/History.htm.

Related entries

Archival resources

John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland

  • Estelle Thomson's Lantern Slides, c. 1930, Reference code: 6602, Box 14219 O/S (black box); Thomson, Estelle (1894 - 1953); John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane, 1995 - , Reference Code: 1453, Box: 3825; Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane, 1995 - , Reference Code: R 1229, Location: Box 3819; Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane Inc Records, 1996 - 1, Reference Code: R 1694, Location: Box 3819; Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane Inc Records, 1995 - 1, Reference Code: R 1600, Location: Box 3891, and the following box which is oversized: 10146 O/S (Items 23 to 26); Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane Inc. Records, 1998 - 2000, Reference Code: TR2080, Box 3811; Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details
  • Lyceum Club Brisbane Records, 1931 - 1994, Reference Code: 1218, Boxes: 3810 and 3811; Lyceum Club Brisbane (1919 - ), Lyceum Club Brisbane Incorporated; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details

Lee Butterworth

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