The Gentlewoman’s Book of Gardening (Cambridge Library Collection – Botany and Horticulture)

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The ‘Victoria Library for Gentlewomen’, a series of books ‘Under the Patronage of HM the Queen and HRH the Princess of Wales’, edited by W. H. Davenport Adams (1828–91), provided information and advice on various topics for those who aspired to gentlewomanly status. Davenport Adams himself was a journalist and author of popular science and history works, but little is known of the two authors of this 1892 work. Edith L. Chamberlain was a minor novelist who had also published a book on the dialect of west Worcestershire, and Fanny Douglas worked with Davenport Adams on other titles in the series. This book follows the fashion of late nineteenth-century works (often by women) which combine descriptions of gardens and gardening with historical and literary references. It is unusual in that its final chapter describes ways for educated ‘gentlewomen’ to enter gardening as a profession – a radical suggestion for the period.


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