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William Robinson

Great Lives, Series 29 Episode 9 of 9

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 29 January 2013

Gardener Carol Klein's great life is a Victorian hero of the wild garden, the writer and horticulturalist William Robinson. Matthew Parris presents, with expert help from Robinson's biographer Richard Bisgrove and reader Stephen Hogan.

William Robinson was a radical and persuasive writer and designer whose influence on British gardens has been compared to that of William Morris on interiors. You may not recognise his name but his influence lives on: 'we are all Robinsonians now, even if we don't know it', according to one recent review. Born in 1838 in Ireland, he started young as a garden boy for the Marquess of Waterford. Little more is known about Robinson's early life, but his rise to prominence was swift once he'd arrived in London. Within a few years he'd been elected as a fellow to the Linnaean Society, sponsored by Charles Darwin and James Veitch. He founded, wrote and published his own gardening periodicals and almanacs as well as writing best-selling books on gardening which struck a chord with the newly wealthy English middle classes who were beginning to build their own gardens in the suburbs around London.

Carol Klein is the garden expert and star of Gardener's World, who started life as an art teacher. Her gardening hobby became a successful career, with a trugful of gold medals from RHS shows and many best selling books on gardening, as well as her own TV series, most recently 'Life in a Cottage Garden'. She shares Robinson's passion and what she calls his 'empathy' for plants, too, making the best of their individual features, whatever they may be.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.


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    Great Lives

    Biography series exploring the greatest people who ever lived. Matthew Parris interviews an eminent…

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