The Ghost in the Garden: in Search of Darwin's Lost Garden - Dr Jude Piesse
The Ghost in the Garden: in Search of Darwin's Lost Garden
with Dr Jude Piesse
The Hive, Belmont, SY1 1TE Tickets: Full £10 Friends £8 U18 £6
The forgotten garden that inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius. Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds' eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.
A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone.
Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin's work. Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.
Jude Piesse joined the department of Humanities and Social Science at Liverpool John Moores University in April 2017. Before that she worked as a Lecturer in English for the University of Chester, based at University Centre Shrewsbury. She also taught for the University of Exeter, Plymouth University, and as an Associate Lecturer for the Open University. Her teaching has spanned a wide range of topics and periods, including nineteenth-century, twentieth-century, and American literature, introductory literature, interdisciplinary humanities, and critical theory courses, and creative writing. Jude completed my PhD on the literature of nineteenth-century settler emigration at the University of Exeter. She also holds a BA in English from Leeds University, an MA in English Literature (1850-Present) from King’s College London, and an MA in Creative Writing (Prose) from the University of East Anglia.
'Jude Piesse's beautiful piece of detective work, The Ghost in the Garden, uncovers and brings to life the place that inspired the curiosity and spirit of enquiry of the boy and man who would become probably the most influential thinker and scientist in history: Charles Darwin. What makes this book so emotionally beguiling is the way the tale unfolds of an ordinary, yet handsome provincial house with a garden - and that was all it took. It moved me because inside Piesse's book she could be describing every boy and girl free to roam and encouraged to explore, and you can feel the melancholy ghost of your own lost youth and heartbreak for those millions without the good fortune to have that freedom. It is a small story with a huge overtone that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.'
Sir Tim Smit, Executive Vice Chair & Co-Founder of the Eden Project