- 1878-1890 (Creation)
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Fanny Rollo Wilkinson was born on 6 June 1855 in Manchester. In 1883 she completed an eighteen month course at the Crystal Palace School of Landscape Gardening and Practical Horticulture. In this she was a pioneer as it was very unusual for a woman to pursue a career in the business side of gardening, and she had initially met much resistance in her attempts to enter the school.
In 1884 she was elected honorary landscape gardener to the Metropolitan Public Gardens, Boulevard and Playground association, and by 1887 she had become landscape gardener to the Kyrle society, whose aim was to provide culture, facilities, beauty and pleasant outdoor spaces to the working class poor. In this role she was responsible for designing and creating Vauxhall Park in London.
Over the course of her role in the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, which began as honorary but later became waged and more practical, she supervised the laying out of over seventy five public gardens in London, including Red Lion Square Gardens and Tower Garden. Wilkinson was also the first woman principle of Swanley Horticultural College and remained in this role until 1916, returning briefly from retirement in 1921-2.
Fanny Wilkinson was a founder member of the Women's Agricultural and horticultural International Union, founded in 1899, which during the war re-purposed itself as an organisation that the government could use to recruit women to work on the land. During her life she was also close to many other pioneers of female careers in various areas, including Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the rest of the Garrett family and their social circle.
Fanny Wilkinson died at the age of 95 on 22 January 1951.
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Five letters to and from Fanny Rollo Wilkinson. Three letters from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, at Middlethorpe Estate, and two letters from Frances Bain to Fanny. Details of the letters are as follows:
Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, concerning the weather, her work with Henry Fawcett, letters she received from the Prince of Wales, her work on lakes and a suggestion to build a wooden bridge for the garden, 8 December 1882.
Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, regarding arrangements for Christmas and a dinner that she had held, 13 December 1883.
Letter from Fanny to her mother, Mrs Edith Wilkinson, regarding a recent storm, Lady Cole and George Edward Browne, 27 January 1884.
Letter to 'My Dear Fanny' from Frances Bain expressing sympathy at her illness, discussing the weather and Lady Harburton's article, 14 July 1879.
Letter to Fanny Wilkinson from Frances Bain, 11 April, n.d. .
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