FOR International Women’s Day on March 8, and for Women’s History Month, here are two remarkable local Victorian women, Eleanor and Georgiana Ormerod – sisters and life long companions who also became working collaborators.

They were daughters of George Ormerod, antiquarian and wealthy Lancashire landowner who in 1825 bought the house he renamed Sedbury Park, which he also altered and extended. Eleanor – the youngest of 10 children – was born at Sedbury Park in 1828. Georgiana was six years older.

While their brothers were sent to public school, the girls were educated at home by their mother and tutors, and it wasn’t until the death of their father in 1873 that Eleanor was free to turn her passionate personal interest in insects into a professional career.

Together with studies in agriculture, she became a pioneer in, and one of the first to define the field of agricultural entomology, studying the insect pests of plants and publishing articles and pamphlets about useful and harmful insects in agriculture and horticulture, from 1877 onwards.

Georgiana, a talented artist, assisted her work by producing detailed drawings of the insects and their life cycle stages. She died in 1896, Eleanor five years later, having received international recognition for her work. One of her last honours in 1900 was an honorary degree from Edinburgh University, the first woman to receive this award.

Text by the curator of Monmouthshire Museums.