Jane Brown

Writer

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Books

Agent: Caradoc King
Associate: Millie Hoskins
Assistant: Kat Aitken

Books

Jane Brown is the author of several books on eminent gardeners, including GARDENS OF A GOLDEN AFTERNOON (Penguin, 1985), the story of Edwin Luytens’s partnership with Gertrude Jekyll, which has become a much-loved classic all over the world. Her other books have included one on Lutyens and the Edwardians, and the gardening biographies of Vita Sackville-West, Lanning Roper and the American landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand. Her seminal work, THE PURSUIT OF PARADISE: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF GARDENS AND GARDENING  was published by HarperCollins in 1999 to great critical acclaim. THE MODERNIST GARDEN was published by Thames and Hudson, and SPIRITS OF PLACE was published by Penguin in May 2001. Jane Brown has pulled up her Hampshire/Surrey roots and transplanted herself to Northamptonshire.TALES OF THE ROSE TREE (Harpercollins) was published in April 2005 and MY DARLING HERIOTT, from HarperCollins, published in 2006. 

The Guardian said of MY DARLING HERIOTT: 'Brown has unearthed a wonderful character who has until now existed only in the margins of garden history. With great verve, she places Henrietta at the centre of the genesis of the picturesque garden movement.'

 

Her next book, DOROTHY, a a biography of Dorothy Elmhirst, American heiress and founder of Dartington, will be published by Unbound in 2016. 

 

Non-Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes

THE OMNIPOTENT MAGICIAN: LANCELOT 'CAPABILITY' BROWN 1716 - 1783

2011

UK: Chatto & Windus

The first fully-rounded biography of Capability Brown, the genius who created the English landscape garden.
'Born to grace nature, and her works complete, With all that’s beautiful, sublime and great; For him each Muse enwreathes the Laurel Crown, And consecrates to Fame immortal Brown.' (Anon.)

Capability Brown changed the face of eighteenth-century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green. This English landscape style spread across Europe and the world. At home, it was so politically pleasing and socially apt that his influence spread beyond walls and hedgerows into the lowland landscape at large, and into landscape painting. He stands behind our vision, and fantasy, of rural England.

In this vivid, lively biography, based on detailed research, Jane Brown paints an unforgettable picture of the man, his work, his happy domestic life, and his crowded world. She follows the life of the jovial yet elusive Mr Brown, from his childhood and apprenticeship in rural Northumberland, through his formative years at Stowe, the most famous garden of the day. His private practice and innovatory ideas – and his affable and generous nature, and approachability (in a society of notoriously ‘grumpy’ professionals) - led to a meteoric rise to a Royal Appointment in 1764. This allowed the family to live in Wilderness House at Hampton Court, and Brown’s clients and friends ranged from statesmen like the elder Pitt to artists and actors like David Garrick. Riding constantly across England, he never ceased working until he collapsed and died in January 1783 after visiting one of his oldest clients. He was a practical man but also a visionary, always willing to try something new. As this delightful, and beautifully illustrated biography shows, Brown filled England with enchantment – eye-catchers, follies, cascades, lakes, pretty bridges, ornaments, monuments, meadows, woods and lanes - creating views that still enchant us today.

MY DARLING HERIOTT:THE LIFE AND LANDSCAPES OF HENRIETTA LUXBOROUGH, POETIC GARDENER AND IRREPRESSIBLE EXILE

2006

World rights: HarperCollins UK

Henrietta St John, eighteenth-century aristocrat, bluestocking and society exile, was born on St Swithin's Day in 1700, and brought up in the heart of Hogarthian London and at her ancestral home of Bolingbroke Castle. She had more wit and intelligence than was good for a high-ranking woman of her time, an impetuous nature, and a passionate interest in the great continental fashion of the time - ornamental gardening.
Henrietta was not the easiest of daughters to marry off. At twenty-seven she succumbed and married a dull yet pleasant MP; but, touring France and Britain with her husband and enduring long periods of separation from her children, Henrietta fell into an affair with John Dalton, a colourful young poet and dramatist from London. After fleeing to Bath to escape the scandal, she endured a cruel and public divorce. Losing her inheritance, she was exiled to remote Warwickshire, denied access to her children and visits from friends and loved ones, and forbidden to leave England or travel within twenty miles of Bath or London. She died there aged fifty-six, leaving substantial collections of letters, written during both her youth and the twenty-odd years she spent in exile. During this time she sustained herself by tending her gardens (she invented the word 'shrubbery'), and writing poetry and daily correspondence with friends. Through evocative descriptions of the gardens and country houses she inhabited, Jane Brown reconstructs Henrietta's remarkable and tragic life.

THE GARDEN AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY

2004

Royal College Publications

The garden at Buckingham Palace is probably one of the best-known 'secret gardens' in the world. Its name is recognised as the venue for the Queen's summer garden parties and, at 16 hectares (40 acres), it is one of the largest private gardens in London. As part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, the garden has been seen by millions of visitors from around the globe. Yet despite this, its centuries-long history and its year-round character remain almost unknown.
In THE GARDEN AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, renowned garden historian Jane Brown presents the story of the garden, from its beginnings as a seventeenth-century mulberry plantation to the role it plays in the private and public life of the Royal Family today. Drawing on previously unpublished material in the Royal Archives, this book uses contemporary maps and plans - together with drawings, paintings and photographs from the Royal Collection - to illustrate the changing appearance of the garden, from Victorian shrubbery to the 'oasis in the middle of London' that it is today, with its 350 species of wild flowers and exceptional variety of bird and animal life.

TALES OF THE ROSE TREE

2004

UK: HarperPerennial

From the giant Rhododendron falconeri with its peeling cinnamon bark on sculptured trunks to the delicate potted azalea on the garden patio, almost everyone has a rhododendron within reach of their daily lives. But few know of the epic passage this plant has taken from the roof of the world.
Two hundred years ago the rhododendron was dragged to Britain from the dizzying heights of its natural habitat in the Sino-Himalayas by avaricious British collectors. Some of the species mutated, others proved hardy and easy to hybridise, and today the rhododendron has made a greater impact on the English landscape than any other plant. In uncovering its extraordinary tale, Jane Brown reveals the rose tree's own story, which reaches back hundreds, some say thousands, of years: the dove returning to Noah's ark was said to be carrying the leaf of a rhododendron; the Aztecs favoured it for their pleasure gardens; the Chinese use it in medicines; it has even excited royal passions and been the source of personal and impassioned feuds. From the blazing heat of Kashmir to the crisp Alpine peaks of New Zealand, the rhododendron has cut a colourful dash across the globe with its clusters of burnt orange, carpets of russet red and shadows of deepest blue, and has moved in the illustrious company of mountaineers, empire builders, botanists and aristocracy. On its ravishing petals the tenderest attention has been lavished, from intoxicating feasts on the shores of the Black Sea to fastidious cross-breeding in suburbia.

In fascinating tales of global passage, Jane Brown celebrates this majestic and ancient beauty and tells the success story of a species forced to exist out of its natural habitat - one which came to be the subject of feverish adoration.

SPIRITS OF PLACE

2001

UK: Viking

SPIRITS OF PLACE is the history of five people famous for their books, art and unconventional lifestyles in the first half of the twentieth century. Jane Brown describes the symbolic importance of the English landscape - from the clipped lawns of Cambridge to country retreats in Sussex - and the role it played within the creative imaginations of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Rupert Brooke, Carrington and L P Hartley.

THE MODERN GARDEN

2001

UK: Thames & Hudson; US: Thames & Hudson (Translation: Thames & Hudson)

The popular idea of the domestic garden is still rooted in the cottage garden tradition inspired by Gertrude Jekyll. But there is an essential link between modern art and architecture and garden design. This superbly illustrated book explores the evolution of the modernist garden, from the influence of Le Corbusier and the British modernist garden movement in the 1930s, through to the European environmental revolution of the 1960s and beyond.

DOROTHY

2016

Unbound

A new biography of the American heiress Dorothy Elmhirst who founded Dartington Hall in 1925, which rapidly became a magnet for artists, architects, writers, philosophers and musicians from around the world, creating an exceptional centre of creative activity.