Synopses & Reviews
Taking a fresh and original approach to the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this book tells the incredible story of her great passion for gardens, and how the two most powerful men in England during her reign fought a decade-long duel for their queen's affections by creating lavish gardens for her. It chronicles how, in their quest to woo the queen and outdo each other, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and William Cecil, Baron of Burghley, competed for Elizabeths favor by laying out innovative and extravagant pleasure grounds at their palaces for when she came to visit. As she played one off against the other, they created gorgeous palaces and landscapes that amazed the world. The book also describes how others in England and abroad followed Dudleys and Cecils leads and how the queens love of plants made gardeners of courtiers, statesmen, and soldiers. This meticulously researched account reveals how Elizabeths enthusiasm for horticulture changed the world, encouraging gardeners and designers to create landscapes inspired by the spirit of the Elizabethan garden.
"The heart of the book contains strong, precise description and thoughtful analysis. Martyn guides us with ease around the great gardens, explaining the ideas behind them, their planning and geometry, hydraulics and planting, alluding in passing to the works of Spenser and Sidney as well as Hill's 'Gardener's Labyrinth' and Gerard's 'Herbal.' She has also done some illuminating archival research, unearthing Cecil's planting lists from the manuscripts at Hatfield and finding previously unknown features of Theobalds . . . this spadework, and the author's visits to many Elizabethan houses and to the Renaissance gardens of Italy, enriches her elegantly produced book." —Sunday Telegraph
"The story of how Elizabeth I's two courtiers Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Sir William Cecil (later, Lord Burghley) ruthlessly and grandly competed for her affections with their gardens . . . is thrillingly told . . . a fascinating account of the rivalry between these two ambitious men." Lady
"Martyn's book is useful in highlighting the importance of the garden in the Elizabethan imagination. It's also timely, with plans afoot to trace the remains of the long-destroyed Theobalds, and a project to recreate Leicester's garden at Kenilworth now well under way. . . . Fantastical details of the gardens themselvesrosemary leaves covered in gold leaf catch the light, visitors rowed through a shady labyrinth of canalsintrigue every inch of the way." BBC History Magazine
"Bewitching and original. . . . Today. . . not a single authentic Elizabethan garden survives—all the more reason to welcome a book that uses a wealth of evocative detail to recreate this lost world of bright bowers and labyrinths. . . . Martyn's scrupulous research restores life to . . . a landscape so enchanting. . . . [An] exquisite book." —New York Times Book Review (February 12, 2012)
“[Martyn] uses gardens as a lens through which to view history, offering an enlightening perspective on Elizabeths reign. . . . A charming mix of gardening history and biography, related with evocative prose, this will delight those interested in gardening history, Queen Elizabeths life, or Elizabethan history.” —Library Journal
"A delightful, absorbing read, a cornucopia of amazing new facts about the Virgin Queen." Sunday Times
"Gardening-as-politicking is a seductive and original idea. . . . Trea Martyn's descriptions of gardens . . . are excellent . . . . In evocative and lively prose she leads the reader along." Guardian
Queen Elizabeth Is great love for gardens transformed her country and made gardeners of statesmen, courtiers, and soldiers. The two most powerful men in England during Elizabeths reign, Dudley and Cecil, led the way. Driven by their rivalry and devotion to their queen, they created ever more gorgeous gardens that amazed the world.
About the Author
Trea Martyn completed a PhD in 18th-century literature at University College London. She has taught garden history at Birkbeck College, University of London, and landscape history at Central Saint Martins School of Art in London, and she lectures widely on garden history.