MAIDEN, Joseph Henry (1859-1925)

MAIDEN, Joseph Henry (1859-1925)
son of Henry Maiden, was born at St John's Wood, London, on 25 April 1859. He was educated at the city of London middle class school and the university of London, but was unable on account of his health to finish his science course. Having been ordered a sea voyage he came to Australia in 1880, and was connected with the formation of the technological museum at Sydney. In 1881 he was appointed its curator and continued in this position until 1896. He was much interested in the native plants, and in his early days was associated with the Rev. William Woolls (q.v.) in his botanical studies. In his first book, The Useful Native Plants of Australia, published in 1889, he also acknowledges his debt to the work of von Mueller (q.v.) with whom he had been in correspondence. In 1890 Maiden was appointed consulting botanist to the New South Wales department of agriculture and forestry, in 1892 he published a Bibliography of Australian Economic Botany, and in 1894 he was made superintendent of technical education. He gave up this position in 1896 when he was appointed government botanist and director of the botanic gardens, Sydney. He had in the previous year brought out Part I of The Flowering Plants and Ferns of New South Wales, of which other parts appeared in this and in later years. In 1903 his Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus, possibly his most important work, began to appear; at the time of his death it was practically completed, 65 parts having been issued. Ten additional parts, edited by R. H. Gambage and W. F. Blakely were published by 1931 and an index to parts 71-5 appeared in 1933. Another valuable work, the Forest Flora of New South Wales, was published in parts between 1904 and 1924, and his Illustrations of New South Wales Plants began to appear in 1907. In 1909 Maiden published Sir Joseph Banks the "father of Australia", a mine of valuable information though lacking arrangement. His industry, however, was remarkable. Either alone or associated with colleagues he contributed 45 papers to the Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and 87 to the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. He lectured to university students on "agricultural botany" and "forest botany"; he was honorary secretary of the Royal Society of New South Wales for 22 years and was twice president; he was for 14 years honorary secretary of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 1921 was offered the presidency but had to decline it on account of his health; he was for 35 years on the council of the Linnean Society and president for three years. In 1916, in collaboration with Ernst Betche, he published A Census of New South Wales Plants, and in 1920 Maiden published Part I of The Weeds of New South Wales. Though handicapped in his later years by ill-health, he continued to do much valuable work both in systematic botany and in forestry until his retirement in April 1924. He died on 16 November 1925. He married in 1883, Jeannie, daughter of John Hammond, who survived him with four daughters. He was awarded the Linnean medal by the Linnean Society of London in 1915, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in the following year, was awarded the Mueller medal by the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science in 1922, and the Clarke medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1924.
Maiden was a kindly, sincere man, with a sense of humour, and a wealth of information which was always at the service of his fellow scientific workers. He was both methodical and enthusiastic, had immense powers of work, and his name deservedly ranks high among the botanists of Australia. In addition to the books mentioned, some of Maiden's writings were published as pamphlets, including an interesting series of biographical notes concerning the former officers in charge of the Sydney botanic gardens.
Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 1926, p. IV; Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 1926, p. 4; The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 November 1925; Who's Who, 1924.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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