Gardens in Translation in Early Modern France and England.

Jérôme Brillaud (Lecturer in French Studies, The University of Manchester)

Illustrated page from an English herbal
Illustrated page from an English herbal, Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris, Rylands Collections, JRL15050827

The 17th and 18th centuries witnessed rapid innovations in horticultural practices which were reflected in the many translations of French and English gardening manuals and dictionaries.

This project which focuses on olericulture or vegetable gardening, is framed by two major texts: Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie’s Instruction pour les jardins fruitiers et potagers which appeared in English in 1693, 3 years after its publication in France, and the translations of Philip Miller’s influential The Gardeners Dictionary, translated into French and other European languages throughout the 18th century. Miller himself translated Du Monceau’s Élements d’agriculture in 1764.

While analysing corrections, omissions, and expansions in the different translations, this project also focuses on the cultivation of a selection of edibles like beans and melons (a specialism of both La Quintinie and Miller) as examples of rich scientific and philosophical debates. These early modern gardening manuals and their translations show that growing vegetables is indeed a matter of rich transnational exchanges, cooperation, and shared horticultural passion.