New Book | Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men

Posted in books by Editor on September 5, 2016

The Capability Brown Festival 2016 has marked the 300th anniversary of the landscape designer’s birth in August 1716. This week, a major conference addressing Brown and his international significance takes place in Bath, and now come the books!

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

David Brown and Tom Williamson, Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men: Landscape Revolution in Eighteenth-Century England (London: Reaktion Books, 2016), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-1780236445, $45.

9781780236445Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is often thought of as the innovative genius who single-handedly pioneered a new, naturalistic style of landscape design, but he was in fact only one of many landscape designers in Georgian England. Published to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of Brown’s birth, this book casts important new light on his world-renowned work, his eventful life, and the wider and robust world of landscape design in Georgian England.

David Brown and Tom Williamson argue that Brown was one of the most successful designers of his time working in a style that was otherwise widespread—and that it was his skill with this style, and not his having invented it, that linked his name to it. The authors look closely at Brown’s design business and the products he offered clients, showing that his design packages helped define the era’s aesthetic. They compare Brown’s business to those of similar designers such as the Adam brothers, Thomas Chippendale, and Josiah Wedgwood, and they contextualize Brown’s work within the wider contexts of domestic planning and the rise of neoclassicism. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this book celebrates the work of a master designer who was both a product and harbinger of the modern world.

David Brown is a tutor of landscape history at the University of Cambridge. Tom Williamson is professor of landscape history at the University of East Anglia and the author of many books, including An Environmental History of Wildlife in England, 1650–1950.


1  The World of Mr Brown
2  Gardens and Society, 1700–1750
3  The ‘Brownian’ Landscape
4  The Brown Connection
5  Landscape and Modernity
6  Alternatives and Oppositions
Conclusion: Afterlife and Legacy

Photo Acknowledgements

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