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Mrs Delany: A Life Reviews

Mrs Delany: A Life by Clarissa Campbell Orr

Mrs Delany: A Life

Clarissa Campbell Orr

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1 review

Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 30 Aug 2019
ISBN: 9780300161137

The first comprehensive biography of Mary Granville Delany-the artist and court insider whose wide-ranging legacy still reverberates today

4 stars out of 5
Kathryn Hughes
25 Dec 2019

"Clarissa Campbell Orr hits the sweet spot between rigour and readability"

Quite why Mary turned, four years after Delany’s death in 1768, to cutting flowers out of coloured paper remains a mystery. And it is a great strength of Campbell Orr’s book that she doesn’t pretend to solve it. Nor does she insist on squeezing the Flora Delanica into a grand theory about the suppression of female artistic practice in the 18th century. Indeed, she admits that Delany’s productions, which straddle devotion and decoration, kitsch and craft, remain hard to place and difficult to decipher. But they are nonetheless gloriously easy to enjoy, and it is that sense of Delany’s life and work as a pleasurable puzzle that makes this exquisitely illustrated book such a treat.