A Thing In Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton by Kate Colquhoun - review by Patrick Taylor-Martin

Patrick Taylor-Martin

The Busiest Man in England

A Thing In Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton


Fourth Estate 307pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

JOSEPH PAXTON'S GREAT patron, the sixth Duke of Devonshire (always called the Bachelor Duke), was one of the richest men in England. Owner of many great houses besides Chatsworth, his palace in Derbyshire, he was an obsessive collector of books, statuary, pictures, precious objects of every kind. Plants, however, were his consuming passion and Paxton, who could work such wonders with them, became his closest friend and confidant as well as his employee.

The Duke had many mistresses in his youth but gave them up when he got a bad attack of evangelical Ieligion in middle age - orchids rather than courtesans became the love of his life. Fortunately, he never allowed God l to stand in the way of his plants. How

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