Jane Austen was a careful observer of the world around her. Writing only about topics she was familiar with, imaging but not inventing, her work reveals important domestic and daily aspects of her cultural and social context. Through her true-to-life characters and writing that never falls into mere description, she paints a vivid picture of the circumstances and places they lived in.
Jane Austen’s six novels provide us with a glimpse of some aspects of garden architecture during the transition from the formal to the informal, wrapped up in a pre-industrial society suspended between tradition promoted by the aristocracy and the fashion for the picturesque, advanced by the new wealthy bourgeois and military families.
Whether it was better to keep or destroy an old tree-lined avenue or prefer one view over another was not a matter of mere ‘taste’. While her heroines, walking in a refreshing wilderness or a sunny shrubbery, make mistakes, exchange opinions, reflect on life, change their minds, fall in love, and above all grow by recharging themselves daily, the underlying motivations and choices that resulted in substantial transformations to the landscape and gardens emerge as a reflection of society.
This book is the product of research in which the work of Jane Austen, “the most perfect artist among women, the writer whose books are immortal”, has been interpreted from a landscape point of view.
The history of the garden is a very important discipline for landscape architects and focuses on crucial moments when the garden was conceived or transformed according to specific rules, representative of a specific cultural context, but it does not tell us how such places were actually experienced by those who spent time in them or how little control designers had over how they were perceived.
The author takes us on a walk with Elinor, Elizabeth, Fanny, Emma, Catherine and Ann to see and understand how they experienced gardens and landscapes as part of their daily life.