A Thing in Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton (Text Only)

A Thing in Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton (Text Only)

Kate Colquhoun

A biography of an unsung Victorian hero, Joseph Paxton was the man behind the garden design at Chatsworth and the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

The Victorians heralded a new era of creativity, a revolutionary fervour seizing all forms of design. Joseph Paxton was a leading light of this movement. Head Gardener at Chatsworth House by the age of twenty-three, encouraged by the sixth Duke of Devonshire he transformed the Derbyshire estate into the greatest garden in England. Queen Victoria came to marvel and with the development of the railway, so too did daytrippers from all over the country.

His design for the Crystal Palace sealed his reputation. By the time of his death, Paxton ‘the busiest man in England’ according to Charles Dickens, could count Brunel and Stevenson amongst his friends. Horticulturalist, designer, architect – Paxton was one of the most remarkable figures of his time.

The greatest age of art and industry is embodied in this compelling portrait of a Victorian hero.

Reviews of A Thing in Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton (Text Only)

    • ‘Energetic, irresistible, a marvellously invigorating tale.’ Francis Wheen, Observer Books of the Year.
    • ‘A superb biography … Colquhoun’s elegantly illustrated, admirably succinct biography is written with true Paxtonian verve. Praise comes no higher.’John Carey, Sunday Times
    • ‘Colquhoun’s picture is affectionate, thorough and compulsively readable.’ Observer
    • ‘Kate Colquhoun should have a bestseller on her hands.’ Cressida Connolly, Saturday Telegraph
    • ‘Kate Colquhoun has written an exemplary life of this important and attractive personality. Hopefully this is the first of many.’ Aileen Reid, Sunday Telegraph
    • ‘Colquhoun’s sympathetic biography is at its most revealing (indeed, its most moving) in its analysis of the friendship between duke and gardener, two like minds meeting despite the barriers of class and convention.’ Sunday Times