In 1903 Edith Wharton was commissioned by Century Magazine to write a series of articles on Italian villas and gardens. She gathered her household together and set off with her husband, her housekeeper and her small dogs on a four-month tour of Italy. Her articles were published in 1904 as Italian Villas and their Gardens. One of the first books to treat the subject of Italian garden architecture seriously, it influenced a generation of garden writers and landscape architects. Nearly 100 years later, photographer and writer Vivian Russell
set out on her own odyssey, following Edith Wharton's footsteps around Italy to photograph the best surviving gardens from her book and to tell the story of how each one was made. her lively text describes the patrons and architects who created the gardens and explores their hidden symbolic meaning.
This is a story of two journeys, separated by almost a century, yet both focusing on Italian gardens. The book provides detailed practical information on where the gardens are and how to find them. There are also historical maps and plans included. In 1903, Edith Wharton was commissioned by “Century Magazine” to write a series of articles on Italian villas and gardens. She selected 70, and spent six months visiting them by train, carriage, bicycle and even by motor car. She took her own photographs, made copious notes, and her scholarly approach turned what might have been a series of frivolous articles into material for a book (1904) which has been in print ever since. Nearly 100 years later, Vivian Russell
followed in her footsteps. Some gardens had been obliterated by two World Wars, others by tourism or simply by neglect. But many remained, unspoilt and virtually unknown, some from as far back as the Renaissance. But Russell, like Wharton, is interested in people as well as gardens. The book includes extracts by Wharton: there are encounters with gardeners, architects and designers. Edith Wharton is the author of “The House of Mirth”, “Ethan Frome”, “The Buccaneers” and "The Ag
is a writer and photographer. An American by birth, she has lived in England and France for most of her life. Her book Monet's Garden won two Garden Writers' Guild Awards. She was a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated for many years and now writes and photographs for the Daily Telegraph gardening supplement.