When Es was seven years old, the family moved to ‘Rangiuru by the Sea’ near Otaki, where the children spent the next five years ‘messing about in boats’, and Es furthered his interest in painting and the natural world. His schooling included a spell at Wanganui Collegiate School, later returning to Wellington College.
On leaving school, he joined the Department of Agriculture, Biological Section, and studied towards a BSc degree. In 1916, he worked his passage to England to enlist in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. On the way he enjoyed short botanising trips ashore at Albany in Western Australia.
In England, he married Alison Burnett, a long-time family friend, and viewed the works of his artistic heroes, Frank Brangwyn and especially JMW Turner, while in officer training.
As a Lieutenant, he served as a signals officer, first in a seaplane carrier, Riviera, on a Mediterranean voyage, and then on the light cruiser Constance, from the deck of which he witnessed, and later painted, the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in the Firth of Forth.
Returning to New Zealand in 1919, he transferred from the Biological Section to the Dominion Museum as official artist, but afflicted by epilepsy, he was retired in 1932.He continued to roam back country New Zealand, often with his wife and two sons, and paint many landscapes, until his death in 1941 from an accident resulting from his illness. So, as a botanical artist working in Wellington, the centre of biological sciences at that time, for the Department of Agriculture and the Dominion Museum he was mixing with the founding fathers of mycology, G.H. Cunningham, and botany, Leonard Cockayne.
ANZAC Stories: WWI in Watercolours and Ink. The Lampstand: The Annual Magazine for Old Boys and Friends of Wellington College 25 (November 2015): 20 https://docplayer.net/61547509-Lampstand-the-issue-25-remembering-our-fallen-100-years-on-the-annual-magazine-for-old-boys-and-friends-of-wellington-college.html
Atkinson, Esmond Hurworth. Find New Zealand Artists: a database of artist names. This website is a collaborative project between the libraries at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū https://findnzartists.org.nz/artist/486/esmond-hurworth-atkinson
Atkinson, Esmond Hurworth, 1888-1941. The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22401763
Cockayne, L. 1919. New Zealand Plants and their Story. 2nd ed. Government Printer, Wellington. Biodiversity Heritage Library https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/12016#/summary
Esmond Atkinson (1888-1941) New Zealand. Australian Art Auction Records https://www.artrecord.com/index.cfm/artist/3590-atkinson-esmond/medium/2-works-on-paper/?order=1&io=1&count=10&Submit=Refresh
Mr Esmond Hurworth Atkinson. S P Andrew Ltd :Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/1-013441-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22557798
Sunrise, Wellington Heads. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/42048
Three Generations: J.C. Richmond, D.K. Richmond, E.K. Atkinson. Cristchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū https://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/three-generations-j-c-richmond-d-k-richmond-e-k-at
290, Dorothy Kate Richmond, York Bay, Wellinton. 291, Esmond Atkinson, Baring Head – Afternoon, WellingtonFine and Applied Arts 14 and 15 November 2018. Dunbar Sloane catalogue page 77 https://issuu.com/bravemedia/docs/artnovweb/77