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Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener

Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener
Emily Herring Wilson (editor)
Blair, Publisher
Publication Date: 

Cloth, 315 pp., $19.95

Elizabeth Lawrence (1904–1985), a popular garden writer of books on gardening in the South as well as other works, actively corresponded with close friends and associates during her lifetime; these letters were the link to the world beyond her door. As the first female graduate of the (now) North Carolina State University landscape design program, she sought to establish herself in the 1930s in a profession that had few openings for women. Her correspondence reflects how much she depended upon the opinions and advice of others, as she turned to writing as a career in horticulture. In this collection of her letters, edited by Emily Herring Wilson, she reveals an evolution of her character from a reserved Southern lady, hesitating on her life’s path, to a successful, self-assured writer, offering comfort to a devoted mentor who faced obstacles in the publishing world. Readers will find Lawrence had some interesting insight into the social conditions that touched her family during the period. Her letters reflect their attitudes in an environment that was going through dramatic changes during and following World War II.

—Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden