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Jean Christine Marlow was born 1938 in Derby, England. Her father, an extensive gardener, encouraged her early interest in plants. She attained advanced standings in botany, zoology, and chemistry at the Torquay Grammar School. She was awarded an Open Scholarship to Hull University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany-Plant Pathology in 1961. Jean then completed advanced studies in Plant Pathology (1961-62) and research in botany (1962-1964) at the Imperial College of Science and Technology at the University of London.
For three years (1964-1967) Jean worked for the Ministry of Technology in London preparing abstracts and reports. She then worked briefly at the Seed Testing Laboratory at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Edinburgh.
In 1967 Jean immigrated to Canada. She continued her studies at McGill University, where she was a research assistant for the Department of Plant Pathology. Then, in 1968 she went on to work for eight years as a research assistant for the University Medical Clinic at McGill where she investigated characteristics of human blood.
Jean’s work from 1976 onwards focused primarily on technical writing and documentation. She worked for the Canadian Marconi Company, Pratt and Whitney, Bell Northern Research, Northern Telecom, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
Jean married Kenneth Zwansig in Montreal in 1973; they divorced shortly after in 1979.
In 1989 she returned to England to begin a PhD program in Landscape Design at Reading University. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstance she dropped out. She moved back to Ottawa in 1991. There, she got involved in the Friends of the Farm at the Experimental Farm. She helped identify hostas when their labels were removed by visitors, and worked to identify lilac locations using records Trevor Cole (a horticulturist at the farm) had rescued from being thrown out. Janet Brown, executor of Marlow’s estate, wrote in a letter to staff on April 23, 2002, “I know that Jean was studying the lilacs there in the early 1990’s, documenting botanical forms, origins and development, locations and re-locations.” There is, however, an indication amongst the documents in the collection that Jean was helping to recreate documentation for hostas and lilacs in the gardens at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa in the early 1990s.
Using excellent photographic equipment, Jean produced a great number of high quality slides taken on both sides of the ocean. Jennifer Dickson, herself an internationally recognized photographer, wrote that Marlow’s slides are “archival and stable” and in “impeccable condition.”
Jean passed away in 2002.