Famed for the quirky and oh-so-eccentric, the Victorian era was home to a fair few strange practices, and characters with names to remember.

From Tom Sayers, a bare-knuckle boxer, to William Marwood, infamous for his ‘short drop’ technique and, of course, the notorious Jack the Ripper, it’s safe to say that this period gave birth to an influx of wild and otherwise unpleasant personalities.

However, throughout history, there are a fair few names that are noted for individual achievements, success and passion, like those of Benjamin Hawkins.

Read on for more about this Victorian and a small insight into his artsy life.

Benjamin Hawkins

Arguably, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins helped to change the way we view palaeontology today, with his work recreating life-size models of dinosaurs put on display for all of London to see. He began by experimenting with various materials and artistic interpretations, following the guidance of Richard Owen.

In saying this, Hawkins’ depictions weren’t always…accurate, let’s say. In his defence, very little evidence had been compiled at this time, so it was more of an artistic spin on Blind Man’s Bluff. Still, no one was expected to know the difference between his models of an iguanodon, which are said to have looked more like a rhino than anything else.

His success spread to America, where he spent his time creating models of dinosaurs that previously roamed there too. That was until corrupt authorities fired him, and all his creations were, unfortunately, destroyed. Maintaining an interest in the subject though, Hawkins went on to paint murals and even drew up illustrations for a book by Charles Darwin.

Sadly, when he died in 1894, many had forgotten about his accomplishments and place in palaeontology, as society became more savvy about the prehistoric period. Still, this isn’t to say that his work isn’t appreciated today. In fact, Brian Selznick, an author, put together a wonderful book in honour of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.