From Publishers Weekly
In 1958 White, wife of the essayist E.B. White, published the first of many horticultural articles in the New Yorker, where she had been an editor for years. It was a critique of the catalogues from which she ordered seeds, bulbs and plants for the gardens around her house in North Brooklin, Maine. It prompted Lawrence, a noted garden writer in Charlotte, N.C., to send a fan letter recommending other catalogues for the author to look into. White gratefully wrote back, and thus began a friendship by mail that lasted until White's death in 1977. Because White often asked for advice about books, catalogues and plants, there is a good deal of gardening information in these 160 letters. Mutual encouragement is a major theme. White praises Lawrence's books, Southern Gardening and The Little Bulb Book, and in her last letter claims to have learned almost everything she knows about horticulture from Lawrence. Though somewhat in awe of the older, more famous woman, Lawrence doesn't hesitate to act as her teacher. Mixed in are accounts of their daily lives, bits of family history and news of Lawrence's aged mother and White's grandchildren. These graceful letters by two women well-known in the gardening world are a joy to read. The book is nicely assembled by Wilson (Hope and Dignity: Older Black Women of the South), whose footnotes are informative but unobtrusive. Photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Who knows why or how friendships develop? What fate brings together two kindred spirits? In the case of White and Lawrence, it was a letter, one that launched two decades of correspondence between two extraordinary women that blossomed over time from cordial, professional camaraderie into real and abiding affection. In 1958, White, a garden columnist and editor for The New Yorker
, and Lawrence, a garden columnist for the Charlotte Observer
, began a relationship based on mutual admiration, support, and respect that evolved steadily into as caring a friendship as one in which neighbors meet daily to swap gardening tips and share treasured plants across a backyard fence. Remarkably, they would meet face-to-face only once during their 20-year correspondence. Capturing the true essence of how to be a gardener and what it means to be a friend, their letters, here lovingly collected and eloquently introduced by editor Emily Herring Wilson, offer an intimate portrait of two accomplished women whose contribution to garden literature transcends their professionally published work. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved