Sign up to our newsletter and receive 15% off your next online order | Free UK standard delivery over £50 *

Palace of Palms (paperback)

In stock
SKU
106437

Kate Teltscher tells the extraordinary story of the creation of Kew's Palm House and of the Victorians’ obsession with the palms that filled it.

£9.99

Author: Kate Teltscher. 400 pages. 197 x 130 mm. Paperback, ISBN 9781529004885, Picador in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2021.

Also in hardback

Daringly innovative when it opened in 1848, the Palm House in Kew Gardens remains one of the most beautiful glass buildings in the world today. Seemingly weightless, vast and yet light, the Palm House floats free from architectural convention, at once monumental and ethereal. From a distance, the crowns of the palms within are silhouetted in the central dome; close to, banana leaves thrust themselves against the glass. To enter it is to enter a tropical fantasy. The body is assaulted by heat, light, and the smell of damp vegetation.
 
In Palace of Palms, Kate Teltscher tells the extraordinary story of its creation and of the Victorians’ obsession with the palms that filled it. It is a story of breathtaking ambition, of scientific discovery and, crucially, of the remarkable men whose vision it was. The Palm House was commissioned by the charismatic first Director of Kew, Sir William Hooker, designed by the audacious Irish engineer, Richard Turner, and managed by Kew’s forthright curator, John Smith, who battled with boilers and floods to ensure the survival of the rare and wondrous plants it housed.

Teltscher is a remarkable new historian...wholly original. William Dalrymple

In this fascinating book, Kate Teltscher introduces us not just to the Palm House at Kew, but to the world of the palm. In so doing, she roams from botany and horticulture, through plant hunting expeditions and literary traditions, to engineering and architecture. Some of the people met on this journey are the privileged members of society, some technical geniuses, others working men who toiled in gruelling conditions to transport a tropical world to Victorian London. Margaret Willes - The Gardens of the British Working Class

Not since Anna Pavord's The Tulip has a book so brilliantly captured the spirit of its subject. Kate Teltscher's Palace of Palms is a glorious headrush into Victorian history via one of the most iconic and beautiful glasshouses in the world. This is a bright, shining jewel of a book, a hedonists' delight and an escapists' antidote to the humdrum. Amanda Foreman

The Palm House at Kew has been a world attraction since it was opened in 1848 - and Kate Teltscher's brilliantly researched account of the botanists and architects responsible is as thrilling as a novel. Claire Tomalin

The establishment of Kew Gardens and the building of the great Palm House is a most remarkable story, that touches on every aspect of 19th century life. Kate Teltscher knows it all – the politics, the science, the engineering – and writes about it with effortless elegance to weave the most wonderfully compelling narrative. Michael Frayn

Media reviews
The author assembles a wonderfully vivid cast of characters...This is garden history at its best - a sparkling window on the colourful and contradictory Victorian era. Ambra Edwards, The Garden

...Teltscher tells her tale of politicking and financial wrangles, domestic tragedies and epic plant hunting expeditions with a pace and vibrancy more commonly found in novels than in academic study. Jodie Jones, Gardens Illustrated 

Kate Teltscher is a Reader in English Literature at the University of Roehampton and Visiting Researcher at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. As a cultural historian, her research has focused on colonial contact between Britain and Asia and she is the author of two acclaimed books, India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India, 1600-1800 and The High Road to China: George Bogle, the Panchen Lama and the First British Expedition to Tibet, which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography. She lives in south-west London with her family.

Write Your Own Review
Only registered users can write reviews. Please Sign in or create an account

United Kingdom

We offer FREE delivery on UK-only orders over £50 (Tracked Standard delivery service). (This does not apply to our print-on-demand service)

Our other delivery costs are as follows:

  • UK Tracked Standard - £5 (delivery 3-6 working days from date of order)
  • UK Tracked Express - £8.95 (delivery 1-3 working days from date of order)


Note: Mat Collishaw framed prints can take up to 2 weeks for delivery.

Age restricted products

If your basket contains age restricted products, our courier will request passport or driving license ID if the recipient looks under 25.


International and EU

International and EU orders are subject to variable postage costs calculated at checkout; these are dependent on the size and value of your order.

Orders to EU and International addresses may be subject to local customs duty or taxes. You will need to pay any additional charges for customs clearance, charges include local VAT and duty based on the value and origin of the product upon receipt of your order.

Weight restrictions: We are unable to ship orders where the total weight is over 2kg outside of the United Kingdom.

Product restrictions: We are unable to ship seeds, plants, bulbs, inflammable products, sharp and/or bladed items, food and beverages outside of the United Kingdom.