Miss Willmott’s Ghosts: the extraordinary life and gardens of a forgotten genius


Miss Willmott’s Ghosts: the extraordinary life and gardens of a forgotten genius Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Manilla
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Pages: 352 Language: English ISBN: 9781786581310 Categories: , , , , Tag:

Ellen Ann Willmott was a remarkable woman whose achievements in horticulture, botany, landscape architecture, photography and more, should have made her one of the most well-known trailblazers of her age. Yet, both posthumously and within her lifetime, she instead became known as a bitter, cantankerous and eccentric miser, and her reputation has been forever stained by the image of her maliciously seeding other people’s gardens with thorns. The beginnings of this prickly myth can be traced back to her conspicuous absence at what should have been the pinnacle of her career: the Royal Horticultural Society’s inaugural Victoria Medal of Honour Award ceremony, at which she was due to be one of only two female recipients.

Universally interpreted as the rudest of snubs, nobody has ever stopped to question why Ellen wasn’t there, or if she was really as difficult and mean as she has been portrayed ever since. Author, Sandra Lawrence, has been granted unparalleled access to her archives, and with it has uncovered the secrets behind this thorniness. This is a book with it all: gossip, sisters, rivalry, squandered inheritance, forbidden love, bad marriages and, at the heart of it all, trailblazing talent.

Weight0.75 kg


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An amazing read! I galloped through * Lady Antonia Fraser *

Author Biography

Sandra Lawrence is a freelance journalist and author, writing, over the past 20-odd years, hundreds of articles; for all the broadsheets and over 60 magazines and journals. She specialises in heritage and garden writing; publications to which she has contributed horticultural features include The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Times Weekend, The Guardian, Independent, FT, Britain, British Heritage, The English Garden, Hortus, Landscape, Garden News, Country Life and Homes & Gardens. She is a columnist for British Heritage Travel and on the Q&A expert panel for History Revealed. She is a full member of the Garden Media Guild. Sandra is the author of 14 non-fiction books for adults and children, on a variety of subjects, ranging from history (including Murder and Mayhem, Bonnier, 2016; Trials and Treachery, Bonnier, 2017 and Instant History, Carlton, 2019) via myths, legends and folklore (including Myths & Legends, 360 Degrees, 2017; An Atlas of Heroes, Templar, 2018 and An Atlas of Monsters, Templar, 2019) and quirky heritage (Paperscapes: Paris, Welbeck, 2019; Paperscapes: London, Welbeck 2019). Sandra was shortlisted for GMG Journalist of the Year, 2018-19, for a series of three long-form essays in Hortus about the Victorian Kitchen Garden; she was also shortlisted for the SLA's Information Book Award in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.