This new biography of John Evelyn (1620-1706), diarist, scholar and intellectual virtuoso, is the first account to make full use of Evelyn's huge unpublished archive deposited at the British Library in 1995. This crucial source evokes a broader and richer picture of Evelyn, his life and his friendships, than permitted by his own celebrated diaries. Gillian Darley provides a rounded portrait of Evelyn's eighty-five years, his family life first at Sayes Court, Deptford, and later at Wotton, in Surrey, his exile in Paris, his interests and his preoccupations. Evelyn lived through some of England's most tumultuous history, through five reigns, the civil wars, the Restoration and the Revolution of 1688. He was author or translator of countless publications, from pamphlets to large folio editions, on varied contemporary issues. He tackled questions ranging from smoke pollution and the environment, gardening and architecture, to town planning and popular science, libraries and fashion, politics, trade and the visual arts.
Endlessly curious and engaged into very old age, Evelyn found nothing unworthy of interest, and this absorbing biography demonstrates the liveliness of his hugely busy mind. Gillian Darley has been writing on architecture and landscape since the mid 1970s. She was architectural correspondent of the 'Observer', 1990-4. Her 'John Soane: An Accidental Romantic' (1999), also published by Yale University Press, was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography.show more