Lancelot 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 proved so pleasing that Brown's influence spread 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 innovative ideas, and his affable and generous nature, led to a meteoric rise to a Royal Appointment in 1764 and his clients and friends ranged from statesmen like the elder Pitt to artists and actors like David Garrick. Riding constantly across England, Brown never ceased working until he collapsed and died in February 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 beautifully illustrated biography shows, Brown filled England with enchantment - follies, cascades, lakes, bridges, ornaments, monuments, meadows and woods - creating views that still delight us today.
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Jane Brown has dug deep into the archives and has written an exhaustive and beautifully illustrated biography that has been long overdue... Those who love his gardens...will be delighted with this book - Mail on Sunday
Robust and revealing - Independent
Her book should find a home in any garden-lovers' glove compartment , offering a detailed map of Lancelot's England - Spectator
Sympathetic, beautifully illustrated study - Intelligent Life
This remarkably exhaustive survey is full of intricacies - physical and psychological, financial and geographical. For lovers of abundantly detailed biographies, this tome will not disappoint - English Garden
Revealing the backstory of our best-loved landscapes will open many, newly appreciative, eyes - The Lady
This informative biography shows [Lancelot Brown's[ achievements were, like the man himself, full of charm - Waterstone's Books Quarterly
Brown's meticulous research and almost scholarly approach to the subject in hand means the reader is treated to an in-depth look at the man - Press Association
The Omnipotent Magician is a valuable work of reference - The Tablet
Close attention to detail and brisk and vigorous prose - Times Literary Supplement
Where this book excels is in the writers' impressive untangling of the web of family interconnections betweens Brown's patrons - Times Higher Educational Supplement
A worthwhile account of the designer of choice for the wealthy late-18th-century landowner - Sunday Times, Books of the Year
Engaging - Good Book Guide
In her exhaustive biography, Jane Brown leads us from Brown’s modest beginnings… to his fatal collapse in a Piccadilly street…Her strength is to show, by carefully extrapolating associations and commissions, how Lancelot’s star rose and rose in the crowded firmament of eighteenth-century society - The Tablet
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About the Author
Jane Brown is a widely acclaimed garden historian. Her many books include studies of Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West; the development of the modern garden; Tales of the Rose Tree, a history of the rhododendron; and the much-praised The Pursuit of Paradise: A Social History of Gardens and Gardening. She lives in Cambridgeshire.