Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a novel by the Australian-born writer Elizabeth von Arnim, first published in 1898. It was very popular and frequently reprinted during the early years of the 20th century.The book earned over 10,000 in the first year of publication, with 11 reprints during 1898; by May 1899, it had been reprinted 21 times.The book is the first in a series about the same character, “Elizabeth”. It is noteworthy for originally being published without a named author. Von Arnim insisted that she must remain anonymous because she claimed her husband, the German aristocrat Count Henning August von Arnim-Schlagenthin, whom she satirises in the book, would have found it unacceptable for his wife to write commercial fiction.Although the book is semi-autobiographical, the novelist E.M. Forster, who lived at the von Arnim estate in 1905, working as a tutor to the family’s children, wrote that there was in fact not much of a garden. “The German Garden itself … did not make much impression. … [The house] appeared to be surrounded by paddocks and shrubberies while in the summer, he notes, some flowers mainly pansies, tulips, roses [appeared] … and there were endless lupins … [that] the Count was drilling for agricultural purposes. But, Forster adds, there was nothing of a show.”Count von Arnim sold the estate in 1910 due to financial problems. The manor house was destroyed in a WWII British air raid on 6 January 1944.