Kent, Elizabeth. Sylvan Sketches, or a Companion to the Park and the Shrubbery, with Illustrations from the Works of the Poets. London, Taylor and Hessey, 1825

Elizabeth Kent flourished in the 1820s and 1830s. Her older sister married Leigh Hunt, the romantic essayist, critic and newspaper editor. Her step-father was a publisher. She never married, but because of her family connections she was part of the Hunt social circle in the Hampstead area of London. Various members of the romantic circle including Hunt, Byron, Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and John Clare were enthusiastic about her works, which are transitional between literary accounts about plants and systematic, scientific accounts. Her Flora Domestica, or the Portable Flower Garden, 1823, for which she is best known, and Sylvan Sketches..., 1825, shown here, integrate nature and narrative, science and art, horticulture and romantic languages of nature in ways that signify changing directions in early 19th century plant culture, looking forward to a more scientific approach to the subject. Flora Domestica... describes in a charming and informal style 200 flowers, shrubs, and small trees which could be grown in containers, which was becoming popular with town dwellers. She advises on cultivation, propagation, and watering mixed with anecdotes, poetic associations, folklore, and mythology.

Sylvan Sketches... describes 80 hardy trees and shrubs common in England, providing factual information about the plants along with their cultural associations and usages in other parts of the world, citing explorers and travel writers. She is about evoking feelings, illustrating the spiritual and aesthetic effects of trees by celebrating the poets who wrote about them, pleasing the eye, and enlarging the readers’ sensibilities, all to encourage more people to be interested in science and plants.

As long as reviewers were paid Elizabeth also wrote for the Magazine of Natural History, contributing a series of nine essays on Linnean botanical classification and identification of plants and their culinary and medicinal uses. She taught botany and wrote a couple of books for children. She wrote a chapter called "The Florist" for The Young Lady’s Book, 1829. In December, 1860, she was living with a nephew in Covent Garden and complaining about the status of women in botanical culture; too many women did not care whether they knew very much about this subject, women were excluded from research oriented botanical gardens, and too many male botanists were unhelpful in opening doors for women to the study of exotics.

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