Edward wrote "To My Beloved Wife" as a preface for The Religion of Geology, published in 1851. Much of Orra's work is undated, but certainly the bulk of her illustrations for her husband's work were completed by this time. While raising a family and keeping active in the affairs of Amherst College, she still managed to find time to prepare 232 plates and 1,135 wood cuts for publication and an additional 60 or more larger-scale versions on linen for Edward's use in the classroom and on the lecture circuit.
Edward did not take his wife's talent and hard work for granted, as shown in this touching tribute to her after thirty years of marriage and mutual partnership in science, religion, and art. He also recognizes that she may have put her own ambitions and artistic desires aside in order to be the good wife and helpmeet she believed she should be.
To My Beloved Wife
Both gratitude and affection prompt me to dedicate these lectures to you. To your kindness and self-denying labors I have been mainly indebted for the ability and leisure to give any successful attention to scientific pursuits. Early should I have sunk under the pressure of feeble health, nervous despondency, poverty, and blighted hopes, had not your sympathies and cheering counsels sustained me. And during the last thirty years of professional labors, how little could I have done in the cause of science, had you not, in a great measure, relieved me of the cares of a numerous family!
Furthermore, while I have described scientific facts with the pen only, how much more vividly have they been portrayed by your pencil! And it is peculiarly appropriate that your name should be associated with mine in any literary effort where the theme is geology; since your artistic skill has done more than my voice to render that science attractive to the young men whom I have instructed. . .