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Biographical entry Coleman, Edith (1874 - 1951)

29 July 1874
Woking, Surrey, United Kingdom
3 June 1951
Sorrento, Victoria, Australia
Naturalist and Teacher


Edith Coleman was a naturalist who wrote prolifically on a wide range of animals and published in both scientific journals and the popular press. Her particular interest was orchids, during the study of which she published a number of new species. She was first to observe and describe pseudocopulation, a pollination strategy whereby a flower, often an orchid, imitates a sexually receptive female insect and tricks the male into mating with it. Between 1926 and 1948 Coleman published 26 papers on the pollination of orchids. In 1949 she became the first woman to be awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion by the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria.



Life event - Migrated to Victoria with her family
1889 - 1898
Career position - Teacher in Victorian Government schools
Award - Australian Natural History Medallion, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria

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Published resources


  • Clode, Danielle, The wasp and the orchid: the remarkable life of Australian naturalist Edith Coleman (Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018), 420 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Anon, 'Edith Coleman: Australian Natural History Medallist', Wild Life (1951), 21. Details
  • Clode, Danielle, 'Popular and Professional Communicators: Edith Coleman and Norman Wakefield', Victorian Naturalist, 122 (2005), 274-81. Details
  • Willis, J. H., 'First lady recipient of Natural History Medallion - Mrs Edith Coleman', Victorian Naturalist, 67 (5) (1950), 99-100. Details


See also

  • Houghton, Sheila, '"If it is not against the rules": women in the FNCV 1880 - 1980', Victorian Naturalist, 122 (6) (2005), 290-306. Details

Helen Cohn