5 minutes with … Gerit Quealy, Author of Botanical Shakespeare


We’re back with our regular series of Q&As being published with friends, clients and other ‘culture vultures’ that we admire to shine a light on their interests and lives.

This week, we caught up with a good friend of Cultural Comms, Gerit Quealy, author of Botanical Shakespeare, a beautifully illustrated compendium which features all the 170 flowers, fruits, grains, grasses, trees, herbs, seeds and vegetables that are named in Shakespeare’s poems and plays alongside all the lines in which they appear – something which has never been done before. Illustrated by Japanese artist Sumie Hasegawa, this stunning book features the first ever foreword contributed by Dame Helen Mirren. 

Gerit will be in-coversation with Country Life’s book editor, Mary Miers, on Thursday 27 July at The historic Sloane Club in London where we will rediscover Shakespeare’s mysteries and botanical treasures. Tickets can be purchased here.

  • One place everyone should visit … Venice!
  • If you weren’t a Writer you’d be …? A producer (but I’m working on that).
  • What is one thing you always forget? One thing? I wish it were only one. When I leave the house… rain mac or umbrella, business cards, or passport or phone…it’s always something.
  • If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Smoked salmon (can I have champagne with it?)
  • If you had to relocate for one year, where would you go? London of course (from NYC).
  • Everyone needs to pay more attention to … ? History! You’d be amazed at how much it informs the present; could save a multitude of missteps.
  • Name one book you wish you’d written. Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by Barbarba Goldsmith. Accurate history but woven together like can’t-put-it-down fiction. Thrilling.
  • Most recent theatre / cinema you attended? I wish I could say Shakespeare, but it was Queen Anne – fascinating story of women at the top of the power structure & how they interact (& it passes the Bechdel Test!)
  • Favourite London location/ building/ landmark? St. Pancras Station – such a gorgeous building, finally restored, amazing Clock Tower & next to it is a modest statue of Boudicca (that area is supposedly where she had her last battle); plus, it immediately connects you to Europe.
  • What are you looking forward to this year? Showing as many people as possible how to bring more poetry into their plant life & making gardens, bouquets, arrangements, etc. have literary & historic layers — and having a lot of fun while we do it! Like the War of the Roses playlet! Also starting my next book & going into production on FLOTUS: Playing the Woman Card in the White House—a series showing the dynamic history of women in power positions in the White House.

Dame Judi Dench at Wellington College Breaking Ground Garden sponsored by Darwin PropertyDame Judi Dench holding a copy of Botanical Shakespeare at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show “Breaking Ground Garden”

Available at Waterstones here.