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William Shenstone

Landscape Gardener and Poet

Neil Curry


Celebrations of the ‘Horation Ideal’ – living a tranquil, cultured life in the country as opposed to the turmoil of the city – had become a literary commonplace in the eighteenth century, but William Shenstone, almost uniquely, lived it.

A recognised pioneer of landscape gardening, his picturesque Midlands estate, The Leasowes, attracted admirers in their hundreds and there he wrote poems which show a move away from the formal and didactic towards the imaginative and the lyrical. He was also an evocative letter writer and essayist, but due to his modesty and, it has to be said, his indolence, little of what he wrote was published in his own lifetime. He was, however, recognised by his contemporaies as a man of taste and his was a powerful guiding influence on Percy’s Reliques and Dodsley’s influential Anthologies.

This study of Shenstone shows his many accomplishments, and in doing so not only brings to public attention a writer deserving of wider recognition, but also casts a fresh light on the middle years of eighteenth-century culture.


Greenwich Exchange



Publication Date:

2020 January


Paperback; 210 x 136mm



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