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Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes Hardcover – 28 May 2009
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A deeply reseached, well-deserved account of his energetic life and achievements, though the latter are too numerous for them all to be discussed. --House and Garden
A valuable and well-illustrated work of scholarship, one that goes a long way towards defining an undoubtedly significant, but strangely ungraspable, figure in the history of garden design. --Country Life
A thoughtful and comprehensive biography of a important figure in early 20th century landscape design. --Victorian
An extraordinarily detailed and richly illustrated record of Mawson's work both on paper and on the ground… Understanding Mawson helps us to understand his times; he deserves to be remembered for his faults as well as his virtues and in this handsome volume Janet Waymark has served him well. ----Times Literary Supplement
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It's also very gratifying to see Janet Waymark giving credit to Thomas Mawson's immediate family for the success of Thomas H Mawson & Sons, as the firm was styled. In the past, several schemes (such as Blackpool's Stanley Park) were erroneously credited to THM personally, rather than the firm, and this book will help to put that right. However, it remains at heart a biography of Mawson himself, one of the foremost garden designers of his day, yet one who some drifted off the radar of Garden History very rapidly, barely featuring in any book on the subject until the 1990s (e.g. George Plumptre's Great Gardens Great Designers).
Having now read and considered more thoroughly such a tour de force, I am not quite as enthusiastic. The author seems determined to avoid critical comment about Mawson and his work. It would have been interesting if she had compared his rather eclectic designs with the opposition, why his ventures into Canada, Greece and Australia were largely failures. Above all the nature of a man whose achievements were phenominal. How did he organise his life? As he was away from home most of his time, how did he communicate his wishes to his office? We needed more about his relationships with others, his wife, family and friends and particularly with his eldest son Edward Prentice, when schemes in the later years may have been largely his own, although still carrying his father's imprint: ie could the old man delegate?
Mawson was clearly sensitive about his position in the social hierarchy, which is another aspect the author could have expanded. Since he was never an architect, it was intriguing to see that RIBA made him an honorary associate, a qualification he used on at least one of the schemes illustrated. As one who lives a mile from his Lancaster office, it would have been instructive to learn what hapened to his practice and family afetr his death
Hers is still the best book on Mawson so far, but there is room for more.
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