760 books dedicated to the rose.

760 is the total number of book titles of books dedicated solely to the rose that I have managed to find. I am sure there must be others, as I continue my search, but I do think that I have discovered the majority. My number does not include more than one edition of a book nor does it include all the annual publications by the various rose societies. I have included only one of each of these with the date range where possible.

Lots of rose books
A few of the larger rose books in the Rosarian Library.

I have collected these titles from a range of sources including: an online trawl through the books held in the Lindley Library (London), a list of books kindly sent to me by The Royal National Rose Society and the bibliographies of the 196 books dedicated to the rose that I have in The Rosarian Library. Another excellent source, for the books published before 1970, has been the published bibliography by Joanne Werger and Robert E. Burton ‘A Bibliography of Botanical, Horticultural and Other Works Related to the Genus Rosa’. I have also scoured websites such as Amazon and Ebay.

The Rose Bible
One of the many titles.

Unlike Werger and Burton who have included books from many languages I have limited my list to those written in English, including books that have been translated into in English. I felt I needed to draw boundaries here otherwise the task would be too difficult and impossible for me to manage. I must admit, however, to owning one or two French titles and that there are a few French books that I would dearly love to own. These are not included in the list.

The oldest rose book
The oldest book in the library MDCCCLXXX (1880)

My own collection of books dedicated to the rose is expanding and by the end of this month should clear the 200 mark, only 560 to go! My oldest is an1880 edition of ‘A Book about Roses’ by S.Reynolds Hole and my newest is the beautiful ‘The Rose’ by Brent Elliott , a historian at the RHS, which includes 40 stunning and frameable plant portraits taken from the RHS archives. As, I believe, the oldest rose book was printed in 1799 mine is quite new! I am aware of one or two that will be published this year but I have none as yet.

The Rose by Brent Elliott
A stunning book published in 2016. (One of the biggest in the library).

There are several rosarians that have written a number of books but the most prolific writer seems to be David Austin (I have him down for 15 books), a well know rose breeder who is still writing at the age of 90 and who has a book to be published this year. He is closely followed by Peter Beales (1936-2013) one of the country’s leading experts on roses and Michael Gibson, a horticultural writer specialising in roses. They both seem to have notched up 14! Others with several titles to their credit include the Harkness father and son Jack and Peter and Graham Stuart-Thomas all well known rosarians. (My figures could be incorrect as I may not be aware of all books and if so I apologise now!)

Reports about roses
I found this useful information inside this attractive cover.

I am enjoying collecting these titles of books dedicated solely to the rose and the books themselves. One day I will declare that there are no more book titles to be found. I am indebted to Werger and Burton who collated all the older titles and perhaps when it comes to 2020 I will be able to add my list for 50 further years!! That gives me three years to ensure I have them all and hopefully I will personally have added to the list by then.

The Rose.  Book by David Austin.

Perhaps I should add that there are many, many gardening books that contain quite a lot of rose information so the books dedicated to the rose do not necessarily document all that has been said. I will, however, leave the collation of these to someone else. I have quite a few to give them a headstart!

I personally believe that there is too much repetition on some aspects of roses and that one or two aspects are sadly lacking. If you are a rose grower, especially if you are one interested in old roses, or if you are keen on their history you are well catered for but if, like me, you are more interested in the aesthetic qualities of the rose well. . . . I must do something about that. . . . . . . .

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