Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review | The Writer's Garden by Jackie Bennet

The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired Our Best-Loved Authors, is a beautiful coffee table book by garden writer and historian Jackie Bennet. Gardens have long been a source of inspiration for artists. While the influence is seen directly in the work of painters and photographers, the effect is more subtle and frequently more personal in written work. The Writer's Garden walks us through the beloved gardens of Roald Dahl, Virginia Woolf, Wordsworth, Austen, Robert Burns, Rudyard Kipling and countless others; 20 authors all told.

I am a writer who has only just begun to explore the joys of gardening. Two years ago, I dug up a small plot in my suburban back yard to create a raised bed for veggies. Since then, I've expanded quite a bit. And while my garden isn't the grand meandering English countryside that inspired Winston Churchill, Bennet's book will inspire even the tiniest literary garden.

I found the biographical and historical anecdotes to be the most interesting parts of the book: the family ties, the eccentric landscape designers and the emotional relationship between writer and garden. The photos by Richard Hanson are gorgeous. The sweeping wide shots are juxtaposed with beautiful botanical detail shots. Definitely check out his lovely book, especially if you're a literary geek like me.

Roald Dahl at Gipsy House

Winston Churchill at Chartwell

Henry James at Rye Harbor

John Clare at Helpston

Thomas Hardy at Hardy's Cottage and Max Gate

William Wordsworth at Cockermouth

Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford

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