Inspirational gardens: the secret gardens of Normandy’s authors
‘I love this part of the country, love living here, for it is here that I have my roots, those deep and delicate roots that bind a man to the soil on which his forefathers were born and died.’ Guy de Maupassant, Le Horla
Normandy, the cradle of French literature? It is, at the least, a land of inspiration that has bequeathed some of the finest names to literary heritage. Their roots fed on these verdant landscapes and majestic forests, their quills dipped in these undulating waterways and flamboyant seas. Be they born or adopted, Normandy’s writers all nourished, in their own special way, very strong links with gardens. Some of them, including Jean de la Varende, Roger Martin du Gard or Jacques de Lacretelle to name but a few, had genuine landscaping souls, whereas Guy de Maupassant, Maurice Leblanc and André Gide were budding authors-cum-gardeners. They all shared a vital need to enter into communion with nature, like Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, the Countess of Ségur, Victor Hugo and Jacques Prévert. These heritage sites breathed life into their works. Whether simple homes or prestigious properties, vast wooded parks or small walled gardens, let us take you on a journey through their secret gardens…
This conference, illustrated with photographs by Benoît Delplanque, is inspired by the book Lieux d’inspiration – maisons et jardins des écrivains normands (Inspiring sites – the homes and gardens of Normandy’s authors) published by Editions des Falaises in April 2017 and awarded the 2017 prize by the Academy of Sciences, the Humanities and the Arts of Rouen. It will be followed by a book signing session.
Jérôme Marcadé was born into a Parisian and Norman family of magistrates and publishers, renowned in particular for having managed the copyright collecting society that worked on behalf of Victor Hugo and also founded two publishing houses, one literary, the other scientific. Jérôme Marcadé was born and bred in an artistic and literary atmosphere. His father, an art collector and bibliophile, boasted a library with over 10,000 books, whereas his mother’s passion was for gardens. He grew up in the family home, at 22 rue Monsieur le Prince where, over the years, a number of artists and authors paid visits. Then, in 2006, he acquired a 17th century manor in Seine-Maritime, enclosed within a centuries-old 5-hectare park which he continues to maintain with equal passion. After working for 25 years in the field of public communication, he took advantage of the move by the Le Dilettante publishers and decided to seize the opportunity to create his own establishment, Jardins en Art, within the premises. Continuing projects he had developed in his Normandy property, Jérôme Marcadé now invites painters, sculptors and photographers to his bookstore-gallery, 19 rue Racine in Paris (near the Odéon theatre and the Luxembourg Garden) for them to take visitors and amateurs on a journey through the fascinatingly free, natural and cultivated areas that are gardens. In 2017, his first book entitled Lieux d’inspiration – maisons et jardins des écrivains normands (Inspiring sites – the homes and gardens of Normandy’s authors, offering a medley of his family’s two passions – gardens and literature – was published by Editions des Falaise.
Further reading :
Lieux d’inspiration – Maisons et jardins d’écrivains, Editions des Falaises, 2017