An Almost Impossible Thing: The radical lives of Britain’s pioneering women gardeners


An Almost Impossible Thing: The radical lives of Britain’s pioneering women gardeners Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Little Toller Books
Illustrations and other contents: Black and white photographs Language: English ISBN: 9781915068378 Categories: , ,

The paperback edition of the bestselling, acclaimed book. While working at the Royal Horticultural Society, Fiona Davison came across a cache of letters from a young gardener who was denied a scholarship by the RHS, on the grounds that she was female. Appalled, and intrigued to find out what became of Olive, Fiona began to research the wider story of early female professional gardeners and discovered a group of pioneers whose struggles changed forever the rights and opportunities for women gardeners. Although gardens are often seen as a refuge, a place to escape from the troubles of the modern world, this book looks back to a period when British gardens were an arena for radical and far-reaching experiments. A time when the ability to cultivate land was mobilised by a group of convention-busting women who wanted to change the world. An Almost Impossible Thing follows six hitherto little-known women gardeners in the years before the First World War, and examines their lives in the context of suffragism, collectivism and Empire.

Weight0.5 kg



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'I devoured Davison's book...the realities of domestic life for young women to the end of the First World War are vividly evoked on every page of the book, making it a revealing document of social history.' Ysenda Maxtone Graham, TLS; 'Fiona Davison has written an engaging, thought-provoking account of "quiet revolutionaries hidden in plain sight": the unmarried sisters and daughters who, in the dog days of the nineteenth century and beyond, chose to dedicate their lives to horticulture. Delightful, quirky and very human details animate Davison's well researched narrative.' Matthew Dennison, The Daily Telegraph

Author Biography

Fiona Davison is the Head of Libraries and Exhibitions at the Royal Horticulture Society. She is also the author of the acclaimed and best-selling book The Hidden Horticulturists: The Working Class Men Who Shaped Britain's Gardens.