Cover Michael Charlesworth, author of our forthcoming book The Modern Culture of Reginald Farrer: Landscape, Literature and Buddhism, will be giving a talk at the British Library on 21 August. Admission is free, and all are welcome. See the British Library event page at:

Sri Lanka to the Western Front: Farrer's Buddhism

"Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) was an alpine plant collector, gardener and garden writer, who single-handedly changed the way the anglophone world writes about garden plants. He was also a travel-writer, rock gardener, novelist, poet and amateur water-colour painter. He became a Buddhist in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1908. His first exposure to a living Buddhist culture had come during his nine-month stay in Japan in 1902-3.

This talk will trace the energy of Buddhist thought in varied works by Farrer. It will look particularly at his account of temples and ruined cities, In Old Ceylon (1908), and the extraordinary volume of war propaganda that he wrote in 1917-18 while employed at John Buchan's Department of Information, The Void of War: Letters from Three Fronts. The talk will consider the poetry of his verse drama, Vasanta the Beautiful: a Homily in Four Acts(1913) and the poetics of his travel writing.

The speaker is Michael Charlesworth, professor of art history, University of Texas at Austin. He publishes studies of the arts of landscape, and his books include Landscape and Vision in Nineteenth-Century Britain and France. He is also a garden historian, specialising in the 18th century. He has just finished The Modern Culture of Reginald Farrer: Landscape, Literature, and Buddhism (to be published in January 2018), which is the first full-length study of the life and work of Farrer (1880-1920), exploring the connection between British modernism and Buddhism."

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