Books  General Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel 

The Downright Epicure: Essays on Edward Ashdown Bunyard (1878-1939)

By: Edward Wilson

400 pages, illus

Prospect Books

Hardback | Mar 2007 | #172947 | ISBN-13: 9781903018484
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £39.50 $50/€47 approx

About this book

Edward Ashdown Bunyard (1878-1939) was England's foremost pomologist (student of apples) and a significant gastronome and epicure in the 1920s and 30s. He wrote four books of national significance: A Handbook of Hardy Fruits (1920-25), The Anatomy of Dessert (1929 and 1933), Old Garden Roses (1936), and The Epicure's Companion (1937, edited with his sister, Lorna). His family were the owners of one of England's most significant fruit nurseries, founded in 1796 in Kent. In his written work, Bunyard was important for his trenchant and enlightening explication of the charm of apples, surely England's most noble garden product, as well as pears and other fruits. There is probably no better contemplation of the last course of dinner than The Anatomy of Dessert. Bunyard's life ended tragically with his suicide in 1939.

This volume of essays is written for the most part by Edward Wilson, English scholar and fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and Joan Morgan (currently England's foremost authority on the history of apples and the place of dessert in Victorian dining), but with important contributions also by Alan Bell (biographer of Sydney Smith and former Librarian of the London Library); Richard Sharp (formerly a Senior Research Fellow in History at Worcester College, Oxford); and Simon Hiscock (Reader in Botany at University of Bristol); the book is topped and tailed by poems from Arnd Kerkhecker (Professor of Classics at the University of Berne) and U.A. Fanthorpe.

The studies include a biographical essay on Edward Bunyard and chapters about his friendship with Norman Douglas; his literary tastes; his scientific work in plant genetics; his relationship with the epicurean society and the Saintsbury Club; his work seen in the context of inter-war gastronomic writing; and his contribution to the horticultural world, particularly as a pomologist and enthusiast of English roses. It closes with a full bibliography of works by, and about, Bunyard.


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