CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today CLICK HERE

Literary lovers’ gardens

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 May 2015

Writiers Garden

Writiers Garden

Archant

From Jane Austen to Beatrix Potter, the beautiful gardens of our literary greats were a source of huge influence and pleasure, writes Rachel Buller.

Writers and poets have long drawn inspiration from the beauty of their surroundings, whether as a setting for their stories or as a place to ignite creativity. Now, a new book, by Norfolk gardening writer Jackie Bennett, explores in more details the relationship between some our most famous wordsmiths and their gardens.

From Jane Austen and Rudyard Kipling to Ted Hughes and Charles Dickens, Jackie visited the gardens of 20 different writers to understand why they played such an important part in their lives.

“I have visited a lot of beautiful gardens but when you go to one where a writer has lived and worked, it gives it a very different dimension and creates a very special atmosphere,” she says.

The Writer’s Garden is in part a biographical study of the writers themselves and in part a journey through their wonderful gardens.

“I absolutely loved discovering more about their lives and how these often very different, gardens fed in to their creativity; how these surroundings influenced what they wrote. One of my favourites was Agatha Christie’s home Greenway, it was very much a surprise to me and very special. We went in the spring and it was magical. Even though it gets so busy, you can still get lost and find yourself alone.”

Another of Jackie’s favourite gardens was Hill Top owned by Beatrix Potter. “I expected it to be a like a theme park if I am honest, but in fact it was really natural and very relaxed. The plants are still ones she chose and the vegetable garden is wonderful. She actually created it after she had written Peter Rabbit, yet when you see it, you can’t believe it wasn’t already there and the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s Garden.”

As well as exploring how a writer’s garden influences the setting for a story, the book also looks at how writers use their gardens as a place to work.

“When Charles Dickens was writing at Gad’s Hill Place, he describes how he would write on the top floor of his writing hut so he could see the tops of the trees and his joy at those views. Yet from there, he was writing some of his darkest books, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

“Roald Dahl had a shed in the garden at Gipsy House but he always worked with the curtains closed. He was a very keen and knowledgeable gardener but he wanted to shut out the outside world when he wrote. Letters from him talk about the hearing the cows outside chewing on the curtains.”

Jackie, who has lived in west Norfolk since she was a teenager, is a keen gardener and says there is one famous author’s garden which she would love to see – Daphne du Maurier’s inspiration for Manderley.

“I think in many ways my book was inspired by a passage in the opening of Rebecca. When she writes about the heroine going up the drive and seeing Manderley for the fist time, she uses the most vivid descriptions of blood red rhododendrons. When you read it, you can’t believe Daphne Du Maurier didn’t live and breathe those rhododendrons and that they don’t exist. It feels so real. Sadly I couldn’t get access to those gardens for this book, perhaps for the next one.”

The Writer’s Garden, by Jackie Bennett, £25 (Frances Lincoln).

More from Out & About

Fri, 12:47

Most people know that Hunstanton is the east of England resort with a west-facing beach, but there are a whole host more fascinating facts that light up this east-west-both-best seaside town

Read more
November 2018
Sunday, October 28, 2018

For a county that’s so steeped in history, it’s not surprising that Norfolk has its fair share of ghost sightings and paranormal activity. We have gathered an unlucky 13 legendary haunted places to visit if you dare!

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stockton villagers in Norfolk gain a grant of £1,000 to help fund new bus shelters on the A146 Norwich Road, as part of Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Scole Nature Trail Trust is celebrating a grant of £1,000 to help fund new facilities as part of the rural energy provider’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cobbled roads, rural pathways and coastal walks, Norfolk has a plethora of streets that are a pleasure to explore. Here we have collected just eight of the pretty streets in Nelson’s County

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We all know how to pronounce it properly. (Think win and you’re a winner, think why and you’re not.) But did you know all these winning facts about Wymondham?

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Norfolk Ramblers guide us on a beautiful autumnal walk around Blickling Hall, near Aylsham

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The landscape designer who nurtured some of Norfolk’s grandest gardens is the star of a beautiful new book

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do you know your Bawdseys from your Blakeneys and your Cromers from your Covehithes? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the Suffolk and Norfolk coast!

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

An ancient castle and a massive mill are two of the highlights on this walk with Norfolk Ramblers

Read more
September 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search