Significant Tasmanian Women icon

(1905 - 2005)
Botanist and Author

Winifred CurtisDr. Winifred Mary Curtis AM, PhD, DSc, FLS has been described as "the botanist whose texts have defined Tasmanian flora".

She was born in London and came to Tasmania in 1939. Very soon after arriving she started working at the Biology Department of the University of Tasmania. Dr. Curtis was only the second female staff member to work at the University. Dr. Curtis went onto become one of the founding staff members of the Botany Department as well as Reader and Acting Head of Department.

Dr Curtis has written extensively on the endemic flora of Tasmania starting in 1945 with The Students’ Flora of Tasmania that she continues to work on even now.

Dr. Curtis retired in 1966 and continued her interest in Tasmanian flora. In 1987 she became an Honorary Graduate (DSc). She played a key role in establishing the University Herbarium in 1977 and maintained a lifelong interest in it. She was also patron of the Launceston field naturalists club.

Many have recognised the valuable contributions Dr. Curtis has made to understanding Tasmanian flora. She has been honoured in the following ways:

  • The Winifred Curtis Scamander Reserve - an environmental reserve
  • The Winifred Curtis Laboratories (the teaching laboratory complex in the Department of Plant Science) named by the Tasmanian University Council.
  • The Winifred Curtis Prize that is awarded for greatest proficiency in first year Plant Sciences by the University of Tasmania.
  • To mark her 85th birthday the Royal Society of Tasmania published a commemorative volume in 1991.

Dr. Curtis was patron of the Launceston field naturalists club and her Botanical Library was given as a gift to the Herbarium of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Dr. Curtis died in Hobart on 14 October 2005.

Publications :

The Students Flora of Tasmania, Parts 1 (2nd ed), 2 and 3, Government Printer, Tas. 1945-

The Endemic Flora of Tasmania / painted by Margaret Stones, botanical and ecological text by Winifred Curtis. Imprint - London: Ariel P., 1967

Biology for Australian Students, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1962

Forests and flowers of Mount Wellington Tasmania by D. Colbron Pearse, Hobart: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 1969

References :

Banks, M.R., Smith, S.J., Orchard, A.E. and Kantvilas, G. (Ed.). Aspects of Tasmanian Botany: a tribute to Winifred Curtis, Hobart: Royal Society of Tasmania, 1991.

Orchard, A.E., A History of Systematic Botany in Australia, in Flora of Australia Vol.1, 2nd ed., ABRS, 1999

Links :

The Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women 2005

Council of heads of Australasian herbaria entry

< Index of Significant Tasmanian Women