Patti asked Elizabeth Gilbert:

I am reading Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things and am so impressed with how beautifully you both articulate nature and art. There is such an imagery when she is describing photography, and in your character Alma when describing something so seemingly mundane (to many) as mosses. Where did your inspiration for Alma come from? One of my favorite characters in years!

Elizabeth Gilbert Thank you, Patti — and I love Alice Hoffman! The inspiration for my Alma came from some real women in 19th century botany — women like Marianne North, Beatrix Potter (yes, THAT Beatrix Potter, who was an amateur naturalist), Mrs Mary Treat (who corresponded with Darwin), and Elizabeth Britton (who was an expert in mosses, and who co-founded the New York Botanical Garden.) Botany was the only science that was open to women in that era, and some of those women were amazing! I read their letters and diaries, and their voices helped to shape the voice of Alma.
Elizabeth Gilbert

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