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A review of the 2021 Foxcroft Lecture

17 December 2021

If you happened to miss the '2021 Foxcroft Lecture: The tree house in Portugal, a book history' or need a recap of what was explored, watch the full video above. 

An array of beautiful imagery captivated this year’s lecture, boasting sinuous garden paths studded with ornamental structures like tree houses featuring curved staircases, cradles of greenery, topiary wonderlands, sub-tropical plants and magnificent cascades. 

In his quest to uncover the origin of tree houses and the influence of 19th-century French literature on Portuguese garden making, Richard Aitken explores novels like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and the motifs behind Swiss family Robinson by Johann Wyss. 

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About the author

Richard Aitken is a historian, curator, writer, and collector specialising in the history of gardens, homemaking, and books. His publications include Gardenesque, Botanical riches, The garden of ideas, Cultivating modernism and Planting dreams.

Over the last decade he has immersed himself in Portuguese garden history and has researched and lectured in Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira. He collects books from the 18th and 19th centuries, known to have been influential in the history of Portuguese garden making.

About the Foxcroft Lecture

The annual Foxcroft Lecture honours the pioneering bibliographer Albert Broadbent Foxcroft, who began working at State Library Victoria in 1902 at the age of 17 until his untimely death in 1938. He left an enduring legacy of scholarship and was highly regarded and influential in developing the Library's rare books collection during the 1920s and 1930s.