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258 × 200 × 25 mm
312 pages
136 illustrations, 114 in colour
12 Oct 2020

Humphry Repton Landscape Design in an Age of Revolution Tom Williamson

Humphry Repton is one of England’s most interesting and prolific garden and landscape designers. Renowned for his innovative design proposals and distinctive ‘before and after’ images, captured in his famous ‘Red Books’, Repton’s astonishing career represents the link between the simple parklands of his predecessor Capability Brown and the more elaborate, structured and formal landscapes of the Victorian age. This lavishly illustrated book, based on a wealth of new research, reinterprets Repton’s life, working methods and designs, and why they proved so popular in a rapidly changing world.

Winner’ — John Brinckerhoff Jackson book prize 2020

‘A finely produced and beautifully illustrated look at Repton’s career. Scholarly yet readable, it’s a must have book for any enthusiast of garden history . . . this is the best general study of the Regency designer available . . . The opening chapter is a brilliant summary of the career and influence of a designer who is generally considered to have been the heir to "Capability"
Brown.’ — Tim Richardson, Gardens Illustrated

‘Humphry Repton, from Jane Austen's world, took a totally different approach. An elegant new life of him by Tom Williamson sheds more light on his working methods than earlier studies . . . Repton bridged the gap between Capability Brown and the high horticulture of the Victorians and was the first to call himself a landscape gardener. Comfort and practicality were his watchwords and he was as interested in small places as grand ones. There is a lovely chapter on "Domesticity and Cheerfulness" and many useful design precepts.’ — Mary Keen, Daily Telegraph

‘Often eclipsed in landscape studies by Capability Brown, the earlier designer's self-styled successor is seen here as a practitioner of genius with a system, meticulously followed. The author goes beyond the Red Books to explore influences on Repton, assess collaborative work with his architect son and set the designs within the context of a turbulent age. Copiously illustrated, this is the most important book on Peacock's Mr Milestone for two decades.’ — Timothy Mowl, Country Life

‘Richly illustrated with examples from Repton’s Red Books and concluding with extensive references and a bibliography, this volume sets Repton and his work firmly in the life and times of the late 1700s–early 1800s in a book that will appeal to those who enjoy reading about garden designers of the past, or garden history.’ — Library Journal

‘This is an important book on Repton, and a tour de force in the social and economic analysis of garden design. Williamson has an unparalleled grasp of what’s at stake in the making of gardens, and a keen sense of Repton’s role in the reimagining of designed landscape. He combines meticulous scholarship with an eye for the telling detail, and his handling of the economics and aesthetics of gardening is unparalleled. Combined with an inspired account of Repton’s friendships and influences, Williamson offers us valuable insights into the gardening world that Repton both inhabited and made.’ — Professor Stephen Bending, Director of the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of Southampton

‘Humphry Repton's imagination of the English landscape was incomparable. He was its artist, sculptor and designer. Tom Williamson admirably charts the evolution of that imagination from the age of Capability Brown through to the aesthetic upheavals of the Regency, always setting it in the social and architectural context of the day. With England's landscape under unprecedented threat, so clear a championship of Repton's work is exceptionally valuable.’ — Sir Simon Jenkins, former chairman of the National Trust and author of 'England's Hundred Best Views'

‘This is the most considered account to date of Humphry Repton’s principles, or ‘system’, of landscape gardening. It draws on the mass of material that Williamson has collected himself in his numerous county-wide surveys, and also the publications of County Gardens Trusts in Repton’s bi-centenary year, all melded together with Williamson’s many insights in his usual lively style. Repton’s observations and hints on landscape design are of enduring interest, and anyone wishing to understand why this should be so would be advised to immerse themselves in this book.’ — Dr David Jacques, garden and landscape historian, and author of 'Landscape Appreciation: Theories since the Cultural Turn' (2019)

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Tom Williamson is Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia, and, with David Brown, author of Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men: Landscape Revolution in Eighteenth-century England (Reaktion, 2016).

Introducing Humphry Repton
1 Before Repton
2 The Shape of a Career
3 Repton in Business: Working Methods
4 The Public Landscape: ‘Character’ and ‘Appropriation’
5 Domesticity and ‘Cheerfulness’
6 Shaping Style: Influences, Contemporaries, Social Change
Epilogue: Repton’s Legacy

Photo Acknowledgements