Curiosity about people and places inspires Jennifer Potter’s fiction and non-fiction, which she approaches with equal pleasure. Best known as a horticultural historian, she wrote a celebrated biography of two early 17th-century gardeners and collectors Strange Blooms: the curious lives and adventures of the John Tradescants, which was longlisted for the Duff Cooper prize in 2007. Two cultural histories of flowers followed: her refreshingly original The Rose: a true history (Atlantic, 2010), which took her from the White House rose garden to Iran, and Seven Flowers and How They Shaped Our World (Atlantic, 2012).
Her four novels have also ranged widely: to Martinique, the Yemen in 1911, France in the late 1960s, and along the Suffolk and Sussex coasts. All were published by the renowned editor Liz Calder. Their themes of landscape, memory, history and truth resurfaced in two works about gardens — Secret Gardens and Lost Gardens — written to accompany the television series on which she worked as associate producer.
A regular reviewer for the TLS and a guest contributor to The Arvon Book of Literary Non-Fiction, Jennifer Potter has enjoyed fellowships on the internationally acclaimed Warwick writing programme and at Hawthornden Castle. When not writing, she walks, travels and gardens. Increasingly committed to helping younger writers develop their writing skills, she has also written or edited works for government departments and public bodies on social and economic policy, among them What Price Privacy? for the Information Commissioner (2006), which first revealed the unlawful trade in confidential personal information.