‘Botany in an English dress’
British flora and the ‘fair daughters of Albion’
in Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830
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This chapter discusses the cultivated Englishwoman's preference for indigenous botany and examines the treatment of native species of flower in botanical texts and educational works by women writers. Comparisons between native British plants and luxuriant foreign varieties similarly occur in periodical literature for women. Flemish workers fled to England during the governorship of the Duke of Alba in the sixteenth century and improved English market gardens with their methods of cultivation. Maria Jacson saw floristry as enabling the self-improvement of women, anticipating that those women who successfully mastered the art of flower gardening would come to undertake a botanic 'investigation of the habits and properties of these elegant playthings'. While Linnaean botany exemplified order during a period of uncertainty and instability, floristry was subject to 'continual changes and alterations'.

Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830

From modest shoot to forward plant


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