William Henry Edwards (March 15, 1822 – April 2, 1909) was an American businessman and entomologist. He was an industrial pioneer in the coalfields of West Virginia, opening some of the earliest mines in the southern part of the state. He was also a prominent naturalist who was the author of The Butterflies of North America, in three-volumes that is highly regarded as a scholarly work with exceptionally fine illustrations.
Edwards’ interest in the natural world began as a boy where he grew up in the Catskills of New York. Later, in 1846, he traveled to Brazil and journeyed up the Amazon River where for Edwards the focus of this trip became the beauty of the unspoiled wilderness he experienced.
Edwards became a serious collector and student of butterflies in the mid 1850s. During this period, he built a significant collection of butterflies and corresponded with many prominent entomologists and other naturalists including Spencer Fullerton Baird, the first curator at the Smithsonian Institute who helped him develop his collection.
Edwards published his first scientific paper in 1861 describing several new butterfly species. During the course of his career he published some 250 scientific papers on Lepidoptera. (Wikipedia)
By 1865 Edwards had begun work on the Butterflies of North America, a three-volume masterpiece that began publication in 1868 and has been called "one of the most important entomological publications of the 19th century." The highly life-like illustrations were drawn by Mary Peart, a talented Pennsylvanian artist, and hand-colored by Lydia Brown. The third and final volume was published in 1897.