Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden, on tour May 2011

Posted By on March 4, 2011

About The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72

Hardcover: 416 pages (includes 35 color illustrations)

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (March 29, 2011)

An inspirational tour de force that proves it’s never too late to be who you might have been.

Mary Delany was seventy-two years old when she noticed a petal drop from a geranium. In a flash of inspiration, she picked up her scissors and cut out a paper replica of the petal, inventing the art of collage. It was the summer of 1772, in England. During the next ten years she completed nearly a thousand cut-paper botanicals (which she called mosaicks) so accurate that botanists still refer to them. Poet-biographer Molly Peacock uses close-ups of these brilliant collages in The Paper Garden to track the extraordinary life of Delany, friend of Swift, Handel, Hogarth, and even Queen Charlotte and King George III.

How did this remarkable role model for late blooming manage it? After a disastrous teenage marriage to a drunken sixty-one-year-old squire, she took control of her own life, pursuing creative projects, spurning suitors, and gaining friends. At forty-three, she married Jonathan Swift’s friend Dr. Patrick Delany, and lived in Ireland in a true expression of midlife love. But after twenty-five years and a terrible lawsuit, her husband died. Sent into a netherland of mourning, Mrs. Delany was rescued by her friend, the fabulously wealthy Duchess of Portland. The Duchess introduced Delany to the botanical adventurers of the day and a bonanza of exotic plants from Captain Cook’s voyage, which became the inspiration for her art.

Peacock herself first saw Mrs. Delany’s work more than twenty years before she wrote The Paper Garden, but “like a book you know is too old for you,” she put the thought of the old woman away. She went on to marry and cherish the happiness of her own midlife, in a parallel to Mrs. Delany, and by chance rediscovered the mosaicks decades later. This encounter confronted the poet with her own aging and gave her-and her readers-a blueprint for late-life flexibility, creativity, and change.

To learn more about The Paper Garden, please visit the book’s website HERE.

Read an excerpt of The Paper Garden HERE.

“An intriguing, evocative aesthetic experience. A lyrical, meditative rumination on art and the blossoming beauty of self that can be the gift of age and love.” —Kirkus Reviews

About Molly Peacock

Molly Peacock is the award-winning author of five volumes of poetry, including The Second Blush. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Times Literary Supplement. Among her other works are How to Read a Poem . . .  and Start a Poetry Circle and a memoir, Paradise, Piece by Piece. Peacock is currently the poetry editor of the Literary Review of Canada and the general series editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives in Toronto.

Visit Molly Peacock’s website at


Molly Peacock’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 25th:  Unabridged Chick – review

Wednesday, April 27th:  Unabridged Chick – guest post

Wednesday, April 27th:  Alison’s Book Marks

Wednesday, April 27th:  Alison’s Book Marks – letter from the author

Monday, May 2nd:  Library of Clean Reads

Thursday, May 5th:  Sophisticated Dorkiness

Monday, May 9th:  Life in Review

Tuesday, May 10th:  Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 12th:  Dolce Bellezza

Monday, May 16th:  In the Next Room

Tuesday, May 17th: Rundpinne

Wednesday, May 18th:  Joyfully Retired

Monday, May 23rd: Picky Girl

Wednesday, May 25th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews


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