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Charles Frederick Ball: From Dublin's Botanic Gardens to the Killing Fields of Gallipoli, by Brian Willan

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Charles Frederick Ball: From Dublin's Botanic Gardens to the Killing Fields of Gallipoli, by Brian Willan

Regular Price: €19.95

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NB: This book will not be available until May 5, 2022

Charles Frederick Ball, ‘one of the best known botanists and horticulturists in Ireland’, was tragically killed in Gallipoli in World War I. This remarkable book describes his experiences at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin and as a soldier, and the story of his relationship with the love of his life, Alice Lane, right up to his untimely death at Suvla Bay in September 1915.



When Charles Frederick Ball was killed at Gallipoli in 1915 The Irish Times called him ‘one of the best known botanists and horticulturists in Ireland’. Fred Ball (to friends and family) trained in horticulture at Kew Gardens in the UK, moved to Dublin in 1906, became Assistant Keeper at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and was editor of the journal Irish Gardening. A skilled plant breeder, he could have expected, in time, to succeed Sir Frederick Moore as Keeper of the Botanic Gardens. Instead, he responded to the call to serve king and country, enlisting in the famous 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

This book describes Fred Ball’s life and achievements up to his tragic death at Suvla Bay in September 1915, shedding new light on his contribution to Irish horticulture as well as his time as a soldier. It is also the story of Fred Ball’s relationship with Alice Lane, the youngest daughter of a well to do Anglo-Irish family, who was the love of his life. They were married in Dublin in December 1914, just after Fred had joined up.

The author, Alice’s grandson, discovered among his mother’s papers a small metal box containing over 100 letters that Fred wrote to Alice between 1911 and 1914. These letters, combined with further research in libraries and archives in Ireland and England, provide a captivating account of Fred Ball’s life in the Victorian and Edwardian worlds of which he was a part. Richly illustrated with historical photographs, Charles Frederick Ball offers a moving testament to a life tragically cut short.

Foreword is written by Seamus O'Brien, Head Gardener, National Botanic Gardens of Ireland, Kilmacurragh, County Wicklow.

“ … a fascinating story, beautifully told. And what a wonderful collection of photographs.” – Jeff Kildea, author of Anzacs and Ireland

“ … excellent. . . a really valuable reference.... It is a sad though exciting story.” – Seamus O’Brien, Head Gardener, National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh

“ … a fascinating character.” – Myles Dungan, RTÉ Radio 1, ‘The History Show’

About the Author

Brian Willan is a grandson of Alice Ball by her second marriage. A former publisher, he has written and edited a number of books in the field of South African history and holds honorary fellowships at several South African universities. He lives in Devon, England.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author Willan, Brian
Editor No
Print Format Paperback
ISBN-10 No
ISBN-13 9781739789206
Illustrations 160 colour photographs
Date of Publication May 7, 2022
Number of Pages 208