The Landscape Guide

Marie-Luise Gothein

Gothein was the author of the best and most comprehensive history of garden design. It first appeared in 1914 and, in my view, retains its pre-eminence. Given the small number of scholars who worked on gardens before her time, and the very large number who have followed her, this is deserves consideration.

The daughter of a lawyer Marie Luise Schroeter was born in East Prussia in 1863. She received a higher education in Breslau, studying literature, history and the history of art. History was taught in a particularly interesting way by a visiting lecturer, Dr Eberhard Gothein. He was 10 years her senior but they fell in love and, at the age 18, became engaged. When he obtained a permanent job as a lecturer in Karlsruhe, four years later, they were married. Later they moved to Bonn and finally settled in Heidelberg. They had four sons. Like many marriages between a teacher and a student, it was very happy relationship. They had common interests and she greatly appreciated his continued enthusiasm in supporting and facilitating her studies and travels. In those days, it was uncommon for a wife to have an independent career, especially if she had a large family. Dr Gothein and the University of Heidelberg, enabled her to meet many distinguished people who subsequently helped with her researches.

One cannot know whether the French name Marie-Luise indicates a Hugenot background but it is possible. The move from Silesia to the Rhineland is likely to have strengthened the Gotheins' internationalist outlook. Silesia was part of Poland until. Then it belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then it was siezed by Frederick the Great.

The first topic she worked on was the English romantic poets. To learn more about John Keats and William Wordsworth, she spent time working in the British Museum. Elizabeth Barret-Browning appealed to her.....Max Weber...   She became internationalist in outlook.