Nan Fairbrother

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Nancy Mary Fairbrother (1913–1971) was an English writer and lecturer on landscape and land use. She was a Member of the UK Institute of Landscape Architects, now the Landscape Institute. Her brother (James Alick (Rex) Fairbrother) was also a landscape architect.


Fairbrother was born in Coventry, England, and attended the University of London, graduating with honours in English.[1] After graduation, she worked as a hospital physiotherapist, before settling in London. In 1939 she married William McKenzie, a physician. Their son, Dan McKenzie, was a Cambridge geophysicist instrumental in developing plate tectonics. During the Second World War, Fairbrother left London with their two sons for the safety of the Buckinghamshire countryside, and wrote her first book, Children in the House (1954), about the experience of living there while her husband was away serving with the Royal Air Force (RAF). Her most celebrated work is New Lives, New Landscapes (1970), a visionary account of the challenges facing land-use planning in the United Kingdom.

Fairbrother's influence on planners, landscape architects, and educators continues today: in 2009, BBC Scotland Learning produced two programmes in their Industry series (first televised in January 2009), titled New lives, new landscapes, an acknowledgment of Fairbrother's contribution. In 1987 the Fairbrother Group of urban wildlife organisations was established and named in her memory, which ultimately became the Urban Wildlife Network.[2]


  • Children in the House (Hogarth, 1954). Published in the USA as An English Year (Knopf, 1954)
  • Men and Gardens (Hogarth, 1956)
  • The Cheerful Day (Hogarth, 1960)
  • The House (Hogarth, 1965). Published in the USA as The House in the Country (Knopf, 1965)
  • New Lives, New Landscapes (Architectural Press, 1970, winner of the WH Smith Literary Award)
  • Shelter (Penguin Education, 1972)
  • The Nature of Landscape Design: As an art form, a craft, a social necessity; with a foreword by F. Fraser Darling (Architectural Press, 1974)
  • Connexions (Puffin, 1974)

Further reading[edit]

"England Without Tears". (1954) Time Magazine. Monday, 7 June. (Review of An English Year).
Laurie, Michael. (1999) "Women of substance." Landscape Design. March, Iss. 278, Pages 53–55.
Rutz, Miriam Easton. (1987) Landscapes and gardens: women who made a difference. Symposium at Michigan State University, 9–10 June 1987. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
BBC Scotland Learning Programme pages, with links to Programme Notes on their New Lives, New Landscapes documentary series: (Access date: 11 March 2009).


  1. ^ Brown, J. (2004-09-23). Fairbrother, Nancy Mary [Nan] (1912–1971), author and environmentalist. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 10 Dec. 2017, see link
  2. ^ "About". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012.