Gillian Tindall

Master Of All Trades

John Evelyn: Living for Ingenuity


Yale University Press 361pp £25 order from our bookshop

Who really knows John Evelyn? To anyone interested in the seventeenth century – a saga of Civil War, regicide, Commonwealth, religious persecution, Restoration, dissolute behaviour at Court, the Plague and the Fire of London, trade wars, and at last (sigh of modern relief) the ‘Glorious Revolution’ and the foundation of a constitutional monarchy – Evelyn is a significant if not entirely distinct figure. Sometimes a paid public servant, fervently attempting to build a naval hospital or to do his duty as Commissioner for Sewers, at other times a visionary thinker urging the planting of more trees or the desirability of rebuilding fire-devastated London on a new plan, he was a familiar name at Court and in the City for the best part of five decades.

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