A Vivid Canvas rear coverMargaret Collyer’s beautifully written autobiography describes her life as an artist and pioneer farmer in Kenya during the first half of the twentieth century.

Margaret Collyer graduated from the London Royal Academy of Art in 1898. Having augmented her Scholarship by painting a number of commissions, she quickly gained a reputation as one of the foremost animal painters, particularly of horses and dogs. Her London studio housed a variety of animals dear to her heart which caused many humorous and worrying moments, from the first fox chase through the streets of London, to the detection of a gang of dog kidnappers.

In 1915 Margaret visited her sister Olive, a coffee farmer in East Africa, a visit which changed the course of her life. Captivated by the country, she bought land near the Aberdare Mountains and never returned to England. An accomplished horsewoman and extremely enterprising, Margaret found both qualities stood her in good stead as undaunted she set to, and built her own house to make a life for herself in this isolated land. With her beloved dogs and a few loyal Kikuyu natives she established a stock breeding farm meeting life-threatening incidents of fire and floods in an area where there were few white people to call on for support. Her description of wrestling a giant python to save her dog from its coils is particularly revealing of her steely ‘no nonsense’ character.

Margaret Collyer died in Mombasa in 1945 leaving a remarkable collection of paintings and drawings now scattered world wide. This is the first time that almost her entire body of work has been collected in a book.


Genre: African history, Art, Autobiography, Librario, Non-fiction
Subjects: animals, Collyer, dogs, farming, horses, Kenya, Kikuyu, London Royal Academy of Art, Mombasa, Painting