Napoleon Bonaparte is famed for his political and military career, which has dominated our understanding of the man. However, in his private life, he was an ardent gardener.
Napoleon’s gardens range from his childhood olive groves in Corsica, to Josephine’s gardens and menageries in Paris, to gardens in Cairo, Rome and on Elba, to the walled garden of Hougoumont at the Battle of Waterloo. In his final garden on St Helena, Chinese labourers built him a summerhouse, where he could sit and scan the sea during his last months.
Acclaimed biographer Ruth Scurr will present her innovative new portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Chelsea History Festival, humanising his revolutionary life by tracing its dramatic trajectory through the gardens, parks and forests that he loved and cared for.
About the speaker
Ruth Scurr is a historian, biographer and literary critic. She teaches history and politics at Cambridge University, where she is a Lecturer and Fellow of Gonville & Caius College.
Her first book, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution won the Franco-British Society Literary Prize, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and was listed among the 100 Best Books of the Decade in The Times. She reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement, The Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal.