Katharine Emma Sapsworth was born in 1878 in London, England. In the 1890s, she was trained in sculpture—first in London and then in Italy and Paris. In 1901, she married John Maltwood, whose considerable fortune enabled her to devote her life to travel, collecting, sculpture and writing.
The Maltwoods decided to settle in Victoria, BC, in 1938. They purchased a house in Royal Oak, named it "The Thatch" and transformed it into a combination studio and country home. Here the couple arranged their sizable collection, including Katharine 's own sculpture and many items associated with her antiquarian interests. The Maltwoods collected local artists such as Emily Carr, W. P. Weston, and C. J. Collings.
During her years in Victoria, Maltwood turned increasingly to landscape sketching, captivated by the views across the Strait of Georgia to the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, to the San Juan Islands with Mount Baker beyond, or south to the Olympic Mountains of Washington. Her pencil crayon sketch series, Treetops, is filled with snow-capped peaks, standing silent and stark, beyond calm coastal waters. She sought to capture the dramatic atmospheric effects, the opaque reflections and the ever-changing light, often giving a mystical, otherworldly impression and reflecting spiritual interests. She died in 1961, bequeathing "The Thatch," her collection and an endowment to the University of Victoria.