Cook, Mary Alexander


Dr Mary Cook, nee Alexander, was born in 1902 in England, where she studied medicine before settling in South Africa in 1926 with her husband, an Anglican minister. She soon developed a profound interest in and knowledge of the old architecture and decorative arts of the Cape. Ballotina in Tulbagh was bought by Dr Mary Cook in 1945 which she owned until her death. After the death of her husband in 1957 she was put in charge of the cultural-history section of the SA Museum (which was later to become the SA Cultural History Museum) in Cape Town. In 1964 she became Curator of the Drostdy Museum in Swellendam, and the next year she and her colleague at the Stellenbosch Museum produced THE OLD HOUSES OF THE CAPE. She also wrote THE CAPE KITCHEN (1973) as well as numerous brochures and articles. Dr Cook was awarded the medal of the Historical Monuments Commission (1949), and the Cape Tercentenary Foundation Award (1959) and that of the SA Akademie (1969). She received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch in 1971. She died in August 1981, shortly before the appearance of THE OLD BUILDINGS OF THE CAPE (1980).