I don’t think it’s a surprise that many writers are also gardeners. Being outside and in nature gives the mind the freedom to rest or roam that writers (and other artists) need to be creative, to find inspiration. So, the new book, The Writer’s Garden: How Gardens Inspired Our Best-Loved Authors by Jackie Bennett with photography by Richard Hanson (Frances Lincoln Ltd., 2014) is fascinating for those who love books and gardens.
The book explores the gardens of 20 authors, all of whom lived in England. The authors range from Jane Austen to Roald Dahl to Winston Churchill. The book is part biography, part literary history and part garden tour. Enhanced with many photographs, The Writer’s Garden gives readers insight into the places and the stories they inspired.
For instance, Henry James (an American author who spent most of his life in England) wrote several stories about scary old houses and their gardens, including the masterpiece The Turn of the Screw, while at Lamb House in Rye. And, the gardens and home at Jane Austen’s Chawton House (described by Bennett as most similar to Barton Cottage from Sense and Sensibility) provided Austen with time, privacy and inspiration enough to revise and publish that book and Pride and Prejudice and had “every outdoor setting necessary for the characters of Emma, Mansfield Park and Persuasion, some of the books Jane wrote while living in the village,” Bennett notes.
Fans of the fiction of Roald Dahl will be interested to see the Gipsy Caravan that is featured in several of his books, and anyone who has enjoyed the picture books of Beatrix Potter will recognize the farms and gardens of Hilltop and its surroundings. But gardens also influenced the work of poets, such as Ted Hughes, and mystery writers, such as Agatha Christie.
This is a beautiful book, fun to dip into to admire the photos or learn about a favorite author or to study for ideas for your own garden or your next reading adventure.
We are fortunate to have a copy of the book to giveaway to a blog reader or Facebook fan. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page (we’d love to know your favorite book with a garden theme or your favorite author) and we’ll draw the name of the winner on Tuesday (Oct. 28).