Sally Festing Gertrude Jekyll

ISBN 13: 9780140156669

Gertrude Jekyll

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9780140156669: Gertrude Jekyll

This is a biography of Gertrude Jekyll - artist, craftswoman, garden designer, photographer, businesswoman and writer of prose. The book attempts to explain the forces behind Jekyll's world, exploring the contradictions of a single woman who overcame entrenched social and professional hurdles. More than 50 years after her death in 1932, Jekyll is recognized as the most influential gardener of the last 100 years. Her works are read with consummate interest at home, and in the US her following is without parallel in the gardening world. People are particularly interested in her working partnership with Lutyens and associate her with herbaceous borders and soft flower shades. Gardening for her was an art, and her philosophy made life and art inseparable. Through unity of house, garden and country side, she aimed to create surroundings which nurtured body and soul in the manner of an 18th-century landscape park. Her intuitive understanding of human needs made her an inspired creative influence in the home and its environment.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Having revealed her taste for the obscure in books on Norfolk fishermen, lavender, and attitudes toward animals in the 18th century, Festing now offers the intense and productive but parochial life of Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932)--her gardens, flower arrangements, crafts writings, and English gentry friends and their country homes. One of six children of an upper-middle-class family, Jekyll traveled and studied to be an artist, but her poor eyesight and competing interests led her to crafts, photography, and gardens, and to develop theories of color, texture, design, flower arrangement, and breeding that she published in 15 books with such titles as Wood and Garden and Garden Ornament. Like Ruskin (her inspiration, whom she met while visiting her sister in Venice) and William Morris, Jekyll participated in the Arts and Crafts Movement, a reaction against industrial mass-production in favor of well-designed, handmade goods, especially pottery and needlework. Politically an elitist, personally an abrasive, autocratic, reclusive perfectionist, excessively sensitive to sound, she was affectionately known as ``Bumps,'' an awkward ``spinster'' who disliked children but inspired such loyalty that after her death her gardening boots went on a 20-year odyssey as friends tried to place them in major museums. Largely because of the great writings about it, the garden has come to serve a powerful metaphoric function in English life. While Jekyll may have been aware of the significance of her vocation, especially as a woman, Festing apparently is not. Instead of a cultural lineage, she offers social lineage and unfamiliar names- -Hercules Brabazon of Oaklands in Sedlescomb, or the Higford Burrs of Aldermaster Court, for instance, and of the ``imperishable memory'' of visiting ``Mr. Barr's Tooting nursery with Mrs. Bennet- Poe.'' With few illustrations of Jekyll's work (the 47 b&w photographs are mostly of people) or quotations from her writings, it is difficult to tell what purpose this biography serves. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Festing, Sally
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