Wilman studied botany at the University of Cambridge, which she completed in 1888 when she received a certificate. It was only in 1931, once women were allowed degrees from that university, that she received her Master of Arts. In 1888 she returned to South Africa and began work at the South African Museum in Cape Town in the geology section. In 1908 she became the first director of the Alexander McGregor Museum in Kimberley. The museum focused on researching Griqualand West, and Wilman focused on the preservation of San and Khoi artefacts. Various articles were published as a result of this work. She also encouraged AM Duggan-Cronin to photograph and record San and Khoi people.
Wilman remained interested in botany, and created the museum garden and rock garden in the Kimberley Public Gardens. She published on the flora of Griqualand West. Wilman was a member of some prominent groups such as the South African Philosophical Society and the Royal Society of South Africa. In 1939 the University of the Witwatersrand awarded her an honorary doctorate in law. She died in 1957.
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