Sir Roy Strong

Sir Roy Strong

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About Sir Roy Strong

Sir Roy Strong is a well-known historian and garden writer, lecturer, critic and columnist and a regular contributor to television and radio programmes.

In 2015, Roy was 80, an occasion which was marked by a publication entitled 'Sir Portrait' in which the distinguished photographer John Swannell transposes Sir Roy into other periods and characters across time. The results were displayed at the National Portrait Gallery through July and August. Roy's most recent volume of diaries have just been published. The Times commented  'we knew Strong had an lacerating wit and an elegant pen, here we see the depth of his humanity...magnificently readible...Strong is the ultimate networker.'  

Born, 1935; educated Queen Mary College, University of London, 1953-56 (B.A. Hons. History), Warburg Institute, University of London, 1956-59 (Ph.D. history). Assistant Keeper, National Portrait Gallery, 1959-67, Director, 1967-73, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1974-87; resigned to become a full-time writer, broadcaster and consultant.

His publications include Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (1963); Leicester's Triumph (with J. A. van Dorsten) (1964); Holbein and Henry VIII (1967); Tudor and Jacobean Portraits (1969); The English Icon. Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture (1969); Elizabeth R (1971); Van Dyck. Charles I on Horseback (1972); Mary Queen of Scots (1972); Inigo Jones. The Theatre of the Stuart Court (with Stephen Orgel)(1974); Splendour at Court. Renaissance Spectacle and Illusion (1974); An Early Victorian Album. The Hill-Adamson Collection (with Colin Ford)(1974); Nicholas Hilliard (1975); Spirit of the Age (contrib.)(1975); The Cult of Elizabeth. Elizabethan Portraiture and Pageantry (1977); And When Did You Last see Your Father? The Victorian Painter and the British Past (1978); The Renaissance Garden in England (1979); Brittannia Triumphans. Inigo Jones, Rubens and Whitehall Palace (1980); The English Miniature (contrib.)(1981) Designing for the Dancer (contrib.)(1981); The English Renaissance Miniature (1983); Art and Power. Renaissance Festivals 1450-1650 (1984); Strong Points (1985); Creating Small Gardens (1986); Henry Prince of Wales and England's Lost Renaissance (1986); A Small Garden Designer's Handbook (1987); Gloriana. The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I (1987); Cecil Beaton. The Royal Portraits (1988); British Theatre Design (contrib.)(1989); Creating Small Formal Gardens (1989); Lost Treasures of Britain (1990); Sir Philip Sidney's Achievements (contrib.)(1990); England and the Continental Renaissance (contrib.)(1990); The Garden Trellis (1991); A Celebration of Gardens (1991); Small Traditional Gardens (1992); Royal Gardens (1992); William Larkin (1994); A Country Life (1994); Successful Small Gardens (1994); The Tudor and Stuart Monarchy (3 vols of collected papers) (1995-97); The Story of Britain (1996); Country Life 1897-1997. The English Arcadia (1996); The Roy Strong Diaries (1967-1987 (1997); On Happiness (1997); The Spirit of Britain. A Narrative History of the Arts (1999); Garden Party (2000); The Artist and the Garden (2000); Ornament in the Small Garden (2001); Feast. A History of Grand Eating (2002); The Laskett. The Story of a Garden (2003); Passions Past and Present (2005); Coronation. A History of Kingship Country Church (2007) Visions of England (2011), Self-Portrait as a Young Man (2012); Remaking a Garden. The Laskett Transformed (with Clive Boursnell), 2014; 'Sir Portrait' (with John Swannell), 2015.

Art and Power has been printed in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. Most of the garden books have appeared in French, German and Dutch. Most of the books  have also been published in the U.S.A The total sale of garden books have also been published in the 100,000 copies of The Story of Britain have been sold in hardback and over 30,000 so far in paperback. Feast has been published in Chinese and Spanish.

From 1963 onwards Sir Roy has been associated with many spectacular exhibitions including Beaton Portraits 1928-1968 (National Portrait Gallery, 1968), The Elizabethan Image (Tate Gallery, 1969), The King's Arcadia. Inigo Jones and the Stuart Court (Arts Council, 1973), The Destruction of the Country House (Victoria & Albert Museum, 1979) and Artists of the Tudor Court (Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983).

In 1980 Sir Roy was awarded the prestigious Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation of Hamburg in recognition of his contribution to the arts in the U.K. In 1983 he had a Hon. D.Litt. bestowed on him by the University of Leeds followed by a second from Keele in 1984. In 1999 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2003 he received the President of the Royal Photographic Society's Award for a lifetime's service to photography.

Among the numerous public comittees on which has served are the Trustees of Chevening House, the Council of the Royal College of Art, the Fine Arts Advisory Committee of the British Council, the Arts Council (as Chairman of the Art department) and the South Bank Board (as Deputy Chairman)).

Sir Roy is also well known as a lecturer, critic, columnist and regular contributor to both radio and television. His television series include Royal Gardens (1992) and The Diets Time Forgot (2008).

He occasionally acts as a garden consultant. In this capacity he has designed and aided H.R.H The Prince of Wales, Gianni Versace and Sir Elton John with their gardens.

In 2000 he became High Bailiff and Searcher of the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, one of the institution's two great lay offices.

In 1971 he married Dr. Julia Trevelyan Oman, the well-known international designer for theatre, films and television. She died in 2003. He continues to live in Herefordshire where he and his late wife designed and planted what has been described as the largest formal garden to be created in the UK since 1945.In 2010 the garden opened to visitors and in 2015 it was willed with an endowment to the Gardeners Royal Benevolent Fund known as Perennial.

In the New Year’s Honours 2016 he was made a appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to culture.

In 2016 a small book on Shakespeare Gardens will be published by Thames & Hudson and Weidenfeld & Nicholson will publish a second volume olf Sir Roy’s Diaries entitled Scenes & Apparitions. The Roy Strong Diaries 1988 to 2003.

Sir Roy is also an experienced after dinner speaker and lecturer.

For further information on Sir Roy Strong's Laskett Gardens please click here.

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