Continuing through the authors of The Little Garden Series of books (edited by Mrs. Francis King), we find our next Lost Lady of Garden Writing, Dorothy Giles, who wrote The Little Kitchen Garden (1926).
Dorothy wasn’t easy to find on the internet until I started to put “author” as part of the search term. Even that didn’t serve up quite as much information as you would expect for an author who wrote at least eight books.
I found some basic information about Dorothy Giles from a website that has biographies of all kinds of people, including Dorothy. I also mined the preface of The Little Kitchen Garden, written by Mrs. Francis King, for a few more insights into Dorothy’s life, at least up to 1926 when that book was written.
Dorothy Giles was born on April 27, 1892, in Cold Spring-on-Hudson, New York, the daughter of Richard and Ida (Webb) Giles. She died in late 1960 at the age of 68.
I know from owning two of her books that she dedicated both The Little Kitchen Garden and a later book, Singing Valleys: The Story of Corn (1940) to her mother.
What seems to set Dorothy apart from the other Lost Ladies of Garden Writing that we’ve discovered so far is that Kate Brewster, Alice Harding, and Ella Porter McKinney all seemed to be avid gardeners who also wrote books about their plant and garden passions. Dorothy appears to be a writer who also wrote a couple of books related to gardening.
The editor of The Little Kitchen Garden, Mrs. Francis King, assures us in the preface that “Aside from an inherited interest in gardening, Miss Dorothy Giles’s experience has been long and intimate in the growing of vegetables, flowers, and fruits in a town on the banks of the Hudson River. For sixteen years past she has been actually working in the garden; and for two years during the war, when labor was scarce, she managed the home garden, doing most of the work herself and supplying not only her own family but two others as well with better vegetables and fruits than could be bought in the market.”
Mrs. King also wrote, “As Assistant Editor of McCall’s Magazine, Miss Giles has done a little booklet, Down the Garden Path, which has had a tremendously popular reception.”
Of course I looked that up! The booklet, published in 1922, is one of McCall’s Service Booklets. The back cover of the booklet lists some of the other titles in the series, including “How to Entertain Without A Maid”, “Spending the Family Income”, and “Time-Saving Cookery.” Each booklet was 10 cents. (Big rabbit hole to find copies of those. Don’t fall for those over-priced leather-bound reprints!)
Dororthy also wrote at least two travel books: The Road Through Spain (1929) and The Road Through Czechoslovakia (1930). For her book on Czechoslovakia, she was honored as the first woman to receive Decorated Knight, Order of White Lion, by President Masaryk of Czechoslovakia.
She also was on the staff of Cosmopolitan Magazine from 1933 – 1939. In her obituary, she is listed as an author and collaborator, having “collaborated in the writing of Sophie Tucker’s biography, Some of These Days.” (Yet another rabbit hole to find out the story behind how those two ended up collaborating…)
Back to The Little Kitchen Garden…
In a mere nine chapters, Dorothy tells us quite a bit about tending a kitchen garden where we might grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, and yes, some flowers too. Each chapter starts with a quote from a poem or prose including this one from Rudyard Kipling…
And I quote Dorothy at the beginning of this chapter…
“…and there is an old recipe, dating back to the days of Shakespeare, for an oil of roses and marigolds in which are to be steeped buds of hollyhocks, young hazel, and “flowers of thyme gathered near the side of the hill where fairies used to be,” which if applied to the eyelids, would enable one to see the little folk.”
What a fun way to start a chapter on herbs.
And that’s a bit about Dorothy Giles, another Lost Lady of Garden Writing and the author of The Little Kitchen Garden.
Here’s the episode of The Gardenangelist which includes a little discussion about Dorothy:
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