GUEST EVENING - Talk by Peter Cowlishaw on 'Isobel Wylie Hutchison', an Arctic explorer and planthunter

Wed 26th June 2013

The last meeting of the Rotary Year 2012-2013

A short biography and a photograph appear on a page from the Scottish Screen Archive at the following link - Isobel Wylie Hutchison

Peter Cowlishaw's well presented talk highlighted that Isobel Wylie Hutchison was a remarkable Scottish Arctic traveller and botanist. She also wrote poetry, books about her travels and many articles in various geographic magazines. She painted many scenes from her adventures.

Isobel was born on 30 May 1889, the third of five children at Carlowrie Castle, Kirkliston. As Thomas, her father, had made his fortune in the wine trade he was able to spend a lot of time with Isobel. She was taught at home by a governess. Carlowrie was an ideal place in which to grow up with wonderful grounds and gardens. She missed her father very much when he died when she was only ten years old. Fortunately he left provision for his children so Isobel was independent for the whole of her life.

Isobel had a talent for writing and a flair for languages.

From her early years she went on long walks - up to 100 miles. In 1924 she went on a tour to the Middle East and on her return she went walking in Scotland. She got the idea of travelling to Iceland in 1924 while sitting on a beach on the Butt of Lewis. This started her pioneering adventures over the next decade in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. She took every opportunity to collect plants as well giving many lectures, talks on the BBC, writing articles and poems.

Isobel carried on travelling for the rest of her life - Japan, China, Moscow and Poland as well walks within the UK - including a 'stroll' in 1948 from Carlowrie to London. In total she wrote six books of poems, seven books on her travels and twelve articles for the National Geographic Magazine. In 1937 she had paintings accepted by the Royal Scottish Academy.

Isobel received several academic honours including the University of St Andrew