A Curious Herbal

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Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal is notable both for its beautiful illustrations of medicinal plants and for the unusual circumstances of its creation. Blackwell undertook this ambitious project to raise money to pay her husband’s debts and release him from debtor’s prison. She drew, engraved, and colored the illustrations herself, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. It was an artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise unprecedented for a woman of her time.