William Turner Thiselton-Dyer (1843-1928)
William Thiselton-Dyer first studied mathematics at Oxford and
later turned to natural science, graduating in 1867. After brief
spells as Professor of Natural History at the Royal Agricultural
College in Cirencester, and Professor of Botany at the Royal College
of Science in Dublin, he took up a professorship at the Royal Horticultural
Society in London in 1872, upon the recommendation of Joseph Hooker.
In 1875, Thiselton-Dyer was offered the post of Assistant Director
at Kew, under Sir J D Hooker, where he was to stay for thirty years.
Thiselton-Dyer devoted much of his early work to the Colonies, such
as the introduction of rubber to plantations of Sri Lanka and Malaya,
and the introduction of cacao from Trinidad to plantations in Sri
Lanka. In 1877, he was given charge of an international research
laboratory, erected at Kew with private sponsorship, which became
known as one of the best laboratories in Europe. Thiselton-Dyer
was also entrusted with the design of a new rock garden, following
a bequest to Kew in 1881 of a large collection of Alpine plants.
Upon the retirement of Sir J D Hooker in 1885, Thiselton-Dyer was
appointed Director of Kew. Under his direction, many improvements
were made and new features appeared, such as the Alpine House created
in 1887 as an annex to the Rock Garden. He also undertook the completion
of the unfinished Temperate House, which became the largest glass
house in the world. He was an authoritative figure who demanded
unquestioning loyalty and obedience from his staff. He retired from
his post of Director of Kew in December 1905.
to: Ghillean Prance