Armitt Talk Series 2024: John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, & Tree Cultivation in the English Lake District with Dr. Anna Burton

27 August 2024
14:00 - 15:30

Join this months talk series with Dr Anna Burton discussing Ruskin & Potter tree planting and propagation

John Ruskin (1819-1900) and Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) were both Londoners in the Lakes. To varying degrees, their artistic outputs, conservation attitudes, and cultural identity became grafted to their subsequent residence in this region. Both were keen gardeners at their Lakeland homes — Brantwood, Hill-Top, and Castle Cottage — and central to their cultivation of these spaces, was an interest in the presence of trees, including regional species like the Keswick Codlin. Through using diaries, correspondence, and sketches by the authors, alongside a consideration of literary works — from Ruskin’s 'Modern Painters' (1843-60) and 'Prosperina' (1879) to Potter’s 'The Oakmen' (1918) and 'The Fairy Caravan' (1929) — this talk will explore how Ruskin and Potter cultivated trees, woodland, and orchard spaces on their respective properties, and will draw out similarities in their attitudes towards arboreal caretaking, more broadly. In turn, this talk will investigate how, at the turn of the nineteenth century, Ruskin and Potter’s corresponding arboricultural ideas contributed to their similar and significant environmental vision(s) rooted in, and responsive to, this particular landscape.

Dr Anna Burton is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Derby. Anna's research is concerned with representations of trees and woodland in nineteenth-century English literature and culture; her book, 'Trees in Nineteenth-Century Fiction: The Silvicultural Novel', was published with Routledge in 2021, and her current project focuses on the literary and cultural history of tree planting in the English Lake District. Alongside Dr Amanda Blake Davis, she also co-leads the 'Romantic Trees: The Literary Arboretum, 1740-1840' project and the interdisciplinary 'Tree Talks' seminar series.

Image: W.G. Collingwood, Professor Ruskin's Orchard (1904), The Brantwood Trust

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