Le Wild Garden, de William Robinson, sa réception en France, hier et aujourd’hui by Florence ANDRÉ – Château de Bénouville

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Le Wild Garden, de William Robinson, sa réception en France, hier et aujourd’hui by Florence ANDRÉ – Château de Bénouville

The Wild Garden, by William Robinson, its welcome in France, yesterday and today

A word from Florence André’s editor, Nolwenn Allain-Benmeziane, “The decision to translate the Wild Garden was, first and foremost, in an aim to render it accessible to a vast French-speaking readership and not exclusively to those with a command of Shakespeare’s tongue! Today, more than ever, this work remains a reference – the concept of the natural garden being very much in vogue – in the field of garden art. Yet translation necessarily requires contextualisation. A translation always needs a critical apparatus to enable the reader to approach, to understand and to fully grasp the text.”
As such, Florence André was invited to write an essay to place the Wild Garden within its original temporal context. This was also an opportunity for her to present a synthesis of her university research on William Robinson, on how his contribution became an integral part of the Arts and Crafts movement and, more generally, to offer an insight into the societal, historic and cultural context, both from the Anglo-Saxon and the European angle, within which he worked, whilst paving the way for future prospects.
Indeed, Indeed, when first issued, this ground-breaking work aroused great controversy and spurred many questions, which resulted in it being published several times, over a period of around forty years, reworked by its author each time. It was therefore Florence André’s wish to present the evolution in the Wild Garden’s design and development, as expressed by William Robinson himself over the years, and to associate it with our present-day concerns. Indeed, the author’s pragmatic approach, dictated by a genuine quest for aesthetic value, associated with a desire for intervention in harmony with nature, creates a model for the “gardeners of landscape” we have become in the 21st century and that he succeeded in imagining in his time.

Florence André


Florence André’s is a qualified English specialist (University of Paris IV); her career has involved teaching English, French as a foreign language and the history of gardens. Also a garden historian, her university study focused on the garden-related links between the Anglo-Saxon world and France in the late 19th century, expressed through the personalities of William Robinson and Edouard André. Chairman of the Association Edouard André which she founded in 1994, she has coordinated a number of events focusing on the work of her grandfather, Edouard André. She also organised a number of events on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of Edouard André’s death in 2011, and has coordinated several exhibitions and conferences in France and Lithuania. Furthermore, she has translated texts on the history of gardens and landscape for a number of organisations and public authorities and has contributed towards published works. She was also a member of the jury that awarded the Fondation René Péchère prize in Brussels. She lives in the Touraine region where she has created her own garden which, for 25 years, has been her experimental laboratory.

Further reading : 
Le jardin sauvage ou jardin naturel, le fameux Wild Garden, Editions Petit Génie, 2014
Edouard André (1840-1911) : un paysagiste botaniste sur les chemins du monde, Editions de l’Imprimeur, 2011