Spanning the period from Elizabeth I's reign to Charles II's restoration, this study argues the garden is a primary site evincing a progressive narrative of change, a narrative that looks to the Edenic as obtainable ideal in court politics, economic prosperity, and national identity in early modern England. In the first part of the study, Amy L. Tigner traces the conceptual forms that the paradise imaginary takes in works by Gascoigne, Spenser, and Shakespeare, all of whom depict the garden as a space in which to imagine the national body of England and the gendered body of the monarch. In the concluding chapters, she discusses the function of gardens in the literary works by Jonson, an anonymous masque playwright, and Milton, the herbals of John Gerard and John Parkinson, and the tract writing of Ralph Austen, Lawrence Beal, and Walter Blithe. In these texts, the paradise imaginary is less about the body politic of the monarch and more about colonial pursuits and pressing environmental issues. As Tigner identifies, during this period literary representations of gardens become potent discursive models that both inspire constructions of their aesthetic principles and reflect innovations in horticulture and garden technology. Further, the development of the botanical garden ushers in a new world of science and exploration. With the importation of a new world of plants, the garden emerges as a locus of scientific study: hybridization, medical investigation, and the proliferation of new ornamentals and aliments. In this way, the garden functions as a means to understand and possess the rapidly expanding globe.
'Literature and the Renaissance Garden from Elizabeth I to Charles II contributes significantly to a dynamic new direction of studies in early modern writings about gardening and nature. It offers a fresh perspective through the lens of gender, ecocriticism, the history of the book, and political and cultural history, helping us to make sense of how people, and especially women, interacted with nature in early modern England.' Rebecca Bushnell, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens 'Literature and the Renaissance Garden from Elizabeth I to Charles II makes a distinguished contribution to a historicist ecocriticism.' Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 'Overall, this book is especially strong in its close reading of literary and plimary texts. Tigner is always lucid and refreshingly direct in her organization and writing. She is an engaging and thoughtful guide to English literary and actual gardens, and she offers many fresh, local insights. … This sound and thoughtful book will reward not only ecocritics but all early modern Iiterary scholars.' Milton Quarterly