William Kent, by Timothy Mowl

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This lively biography of the "Architect, Designer, Opportunist" (1685-1748) is as idiosyncratic as its subject. Mowl starts with an account of a conversation overheard in Kent's birthplace of Bridlington: "quick, slightly camp... I could hardly follow it." Another example of Yorkshire camp, Kent was a paradigm of the 18th-century bachelor, keen on food and vulgar humour. Yet, he also invented the Gothic Revival (in Esher of all places) and created the classic "English Garden" still adored in France. A shame that the "Ruritanian Palace" he devised for Horse Guards was never realised in stone.