Fern Fever

Fern Fever : The Story of Pteridomania

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'Of all the many passions and crazes in nineteenth-century gardening and natural history, none was as long lasting or as wide reaching as fern fever, or Pteridomania as it became known. The obsession with ferns was not confined to a few professional botanists but it affected men, women and children from all classes through the British Isles, the Empire and America. Books and articles encouraged thousands to set out on fern forays. Their overwhelming desire to 'capture' a rare specimen led them to wade through streams, scale rock faces, descend gorges and lean over fast-flowing rivers. Accidents were common, sometimes fatal, and over-collecting and even fern stealing were rife. Sarah Whittingham has explored verdant ferneries and Pulhamite grottoes throughout the land, read hundreds of Victorian works on ferns, and examined ferny items from Coalbrookdale benches to Royal Worcester pottery to reveal the incredible extent of the craze. She introduces the key players - John Lindsay, Nathaniel Ward, George Loddiges, Edward Newman, Thomas Moore - together with many others. It was possible to live a life in ferns from the cradle to the grave: if you were to go to the seaside, visit the theatre, view an exhibition, decorate your house, read novels, play music and even spend time in hospital, you would come upon ferns and ferneries. Fern Fever encompasses garden history, social history, and the decorative arts, illustrated with over 150 beautiful images from around the world. It includes a list of places to visit where you can experience the Victorian fern craze first hand today.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 238 x 294 x 28mm | 1,759.93g
  • Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 150 illustrations in colour and b/w
  • 0711230706
  • 9780711230705
  • 375,846

Review quote

'easily read, well-written' The Professional Gardener 'an often amusing range of objects decorated with ferns ... the serious content lies in the account of the ferneries that have been restored and returned to their original use." Historic Gardens Review 'This lavishly illustrated survey is a delight.' Good Book Guide You don't need to be a pteridomaniac to appreciate this book, but you may well become one if you read it all Garden Design Journal It is scholarly in context in that it has recorded a period of our history in depth but in a readable and delightful manner. The beautiful illustrations form an important part and cover an exhaustive range of fern memorabilia Welsh Historic Gardens Trust Deserves to become the standard reference on the subject. Victorian Editor's Choice: This lavishly illustrated survey will delight all interested in social history, garden history and the decorative arts. Good Book Guide A superb new book. Independent - Anna Pavord Dr Whittingham has done her work well. She leads the reader along the fern gully wioth a discerning eye, and organises her material with skill and wit. The whole book is enriched with excellent, well-placed and well-captioned illustrations, so it is a pleasure for the eye as well as the mind. It deserves to become the standard work on the subject. Country Life Sarah Whittingham is a tremendous writer; she manages to convey the fervour of the fern madness that gripped the Victorians, not just here in England but around the world, and simultaneously imparts history, botany, human eccentricity and passion in grippingly readable form. House & Gardenshow more

About Sarah Whittingham

Dr Sarah Whittingham is an historian who specialises in the social history, architecture and gardens of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She has lectured on fern fever for many years, and appeared on radio and television talking about the subject. She is also the author of The Victorian Fern Craze (2009) and has written a number of articles on the subject for various magazines. She is the author of a number of books and articles on Victorian and Edwardian architects and architecture, and has lectured widely on architectural history.show more