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John Evelyn

John Evelyn (1620 - 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist.

Evelyn's diaries are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time. Evelyn and Pepys corresponded frequently and much of this correspondence has been preserved.

John Evelyn was born in Wotton, Surrey, and grew up in the Sussex town of Lewes. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and at the Middle Temple. While in London, he witnessed important events such as the execution of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. Having briefly joined the Royalist army, he went abroad to avoid further involvement in the English Civil War and married Mary Browne, daughter of the British ambassador in Paris.

In 1652, Evelyn and his wife settled in Deptford, but it was after the Restoration that his career really took off. His treatise Sylva, or Discourse on Foreign Trees (1664) was written as an encouragement to landowners to plant trees to provide timber for England's burgeoning navy. He was a member of the Royal Society and, as a leading churchman, was closely involved in the reconstruction of St Paul's Cathedral by Christopher Wren.

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