The Story of Kew Gardens in Photographs:
Compiled by Lynn Parker and Kiri Ross-Jones, Arcturus Publishing in association with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Arcturus Publishing are delighted to bring you the fascinating story of Kew Gardens, told through over two hundred and fifty beautiful black and white photographs, sourced from RBG Kew’s historical collections. This is the first publication of its kind from Kew - a photographic history, where almost all of the images featured are previously unseen. The book is divided into seven chapters, taking the reader on a journey from Kew’s birth as a public institution in 1841 (under the helm of its first Director Sir William Hooker), charting the organisation’s rise to one of the world’s most important botanic gardens.
The book explores Kew’s history through the era of the great Victorian plant hunters and the British Empire; to the austere years during the World Wars; right through to the modern post war period, when the Gardens’ iconic buildings and plant collections were restored to their former glory under the directorship of Sir Edward Salisbury and his successors. The story ends in the early 1970s, just before the advent of the widespread use of colour photography, giving this book a truly nostalgic feel.
The images have all been carefully sourced and selected from Kew’s historical collections by our Archivist, Kiri Ross-Jones, and Assistant Curator of Art and Artefacts, Lynn Parker. Many of the images are from Kew's historic photograph and portrait collections, curated by Kew’s Art and Illustrations team. This has been an incredible undertaking, as many of the collections from which the images were sourced had yet to be explored in great depth and in many cases lacked accompanying information or captions. These collections have unveiled a whole host of treasures that have been donated to Kew over the years, including images from the private photo collections of eminent plant hunters, botanists and naturalists, including Francis Kingdon-Ward, Henry Ridley and Reginald Rose-Innes.
The book also includes images of Kew behind the scenes, revealing what life was like for staff and students in the organisation; from work in the laboratory and tropical nursery, to the social side of life in the Gardens, including wonderful images of Kew staff enjoying a game of tennis.
As a photographic history, the book provides an interesting insight into the way photography has changed over the years with the advancement of technology, becoming readily available to the masses over time. Readers can see firsthand how styles and trends in photography developed, starting with the earliest images – portraits of Kew’s Directors taken in studios in very formal and static poses, to images taken on plant hunting expeditions, which document some of the British Empire’s most diverse cultures. The book also contains propaganda images of Kew taken during the World Wars, which conveyed the organisation’s significant contribution to the war effort to a mass audience. Images of the allotments and demonstration plots outside the Palm House were used to encourage the public to grow their own vegetables during this period.
Archivist at Kew Gardens, Kiri Ross Jones, says: “It has been fascinating discovering the hidden history of Kew, exploring the stories of the people behind the scenes who have made the organisation what it is ̶ people like the great plants hunters, Kew’s earliest directors, and especially the first women to work in the Gardens”.
About the Authors
Kiri Ross-Jones is Kew’s Archivist and Records Manager. She has managed Kew’s Archives for the last six years, prior to which she worked in the archives of the V&A and the National Maritime Museum.
Lynn Parker has been Assistant Curator of Art and Artefacts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for the past five years. She previously worked in Collections Management at the V&A, and with anthropological and photographic collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
They are both available for interview.
Notes to Editors:
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Authors: Lynn Parker and Kiri Ross-Jones
Imprint: Arcturus Publishing in association with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Specification: 210x297mm (landscape)
Illustrations: 208 pp with over 250 photographs, hardback
Publication date: April 2013
Rights: Arcturus Publishing Ltd and the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
For information on Kew’s Library, Art, and Archive collections, please go to:
Related Kew publications
The Plant Hunters: The adventures of the world’s greatest botanical explorers
Andre Deutsch in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
By Carolyn Fry
May 2012 (reprint edition)
ISBN: 978 0 233 00356 6
December 2012 - iPad digital book available from the Apple iBookstore
This award winning book tells the story of our obsession with plants; how they were moved across the world, how new discoveries helped to save lives and how, even today, hundreds of new species are still being discovered. The iPad digital version includes enhanced visual and audio features.
The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (second edition)
By Ray Desmond
ISBN 978 1 84246 168 6
Comprehensively revised, this stunning, richly illustrated reference takes in every aspect of Kew’s history over two centuries – it is the authorised history of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Other Kew publications in 2013
International Garden Photographer of the Year Book 6
ISBN: 978 1 84246 482 3
This stunning paperback showcases the winners and best entries for the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition.
David Nash: A Natural Gallery
Edited by Michelle Payne
ISBN 978 1 84246 463 2
This book showcases the year-long exhibition at RBG Kew. Stunning colour photography documents the exhibition in its entirety, allowing outdoor works to be appreciated against a changing seasonal background and showcasing new works created during the artist’s six-month Kew residency.
Rory McEwen: The Colours of Reality
Edited by Martyn Rix
ISBN 978184246 466 3 (paperback)
ISBN 978 1 84246 487 8 (hardback)
This book showcases the botanical work and other creative talents of Rory McEwen (1932-82) ranging from the 1950s to the early 1980s.
Kew Publishing is the publishing arm of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Over 20 new titles are produced each year, catering for diverse readerships, from scientists and academics to the general public of all ages. We aim to inspire and educate people about Kew’s plant science and conservation work and to make available Kew’s unique heritage and collections, knowledge and cutting edge expertise to as wide an audience as possible throughout the world.
Arcturus Publishing Ltd is dedicated to creating books that appeal to a broad, international market. Its books aim to combine excellent content, attractive design, great production values and exceptional value for money. Non-fiction ranges cover reference, practical art, new age, classics, puzzles and children's books and number more than a 1,000 active titles. For more information please go to www.arcturuspublishing.com.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction.
RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009.
Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew receives funding from the UK Government through Defra for approximately half of its income and is also reliant on support from other sources. Without the voluntary monies raised through membership, donations and grants, Kew would have to significantly scale back activities at a time when, as environmental challenges become ever more acute, its resources and expertise are needed in the world more than ever. Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseed
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