What a beautiful book … illustrated with wonderful botanical prints from Elizabeth Blackwell’s classic ‘A Curious Herbal’ (1737-1739) published originally in 125 weekly sections. The resulting two volumes showcased over 500 plants, each one drawn, engraved and coloured by Elizabeth Blackwell.

I was drawn to Elizabeth Blackwell’s back story of love and female determination when I visited Chawton House in Hampshire in autumn 2019; in particular a herb garden planted there in 2016 in her memory. Much of the original medicinal detail is still relevant today and copies of the original ‘A Curious Herbal’ can be viewed in the British Library or indeed 48 pages have been made accessible as a virtual book by the British Library’s ‘Turning Pages’ technology.

Sonya Patel Ellis wrote her book ‘The Heritage Herbal’ in celebration of Elizabeth Blackwell’s amazing talent and love of plants. She has chosen 35 heritage herbs and flowers with up-to-date information about their identification, growing, gathering and storing as well as essential qualities and medicinal properties. Sonya also includes remedies and recipes for each herb. A wonderful herbarium section completes the book which allows the reader to design their own recipes and remedies to heal and nourish.

A truly delightful book from cover to cover!


Reviewed by Annie Leonard – Herb Society Trustee


The Heritage Herbal Recipes and Remedies for Modern Living

Sonya Patel Ellis

Pub. The British Library, London 2020

ISBN  978 0 7123 5380 9