Sunday, 25 July 2010

A Tribute to Elspeth Thompson

Photo courtesy of

Today I found out the sad news that Elspeth Thompson, gardener, writer and craftswoman died four months ago. For those of you who haven't come across her work, she wrote books such as The London Gardener :Guide and Sourcebook, and The Urban Gardener. More recently she had written books on crafts and making things, such as Gorgeous Things to Make with Love.

Her writing was a real inspiration to many including me. Sometimes felt that if I liked something, it was only a matter of time before she would have written a book on it. This sometimes spooked me in a "parallel lives" kind of way, but more often made me feel connected in some way to something bigger than myself. I loved the way she transferred so much enthusiasm into her writing, and passed on that creative urge to her readers.

The very sad thing about this is that I didn't know until I read a very moving account by her husband in this weekend's paper. She had battled for years with depression, and despite the fantastic talent she possessed, she was unable to go on. She left notes to people including her 6 year old daughter, telling them she loved them and she was sorry. Then she took sleeping tablets and put stones in her pockets and walked into a river.

Perhaps because of also having a 6 year old daughter, perhaps because of the shared interests, I found this unbearably tragic. Depression is a terrible illness, and one that isn't taken seriously enough in our society. I constantly hear colleagues whingeing about someone being "off sick with depression/stress" as if it is a skive. Crikey, there are better ways to skive.

Someone who clearly had so much talent and so much to offer the world finding it so hard to go on that they took their own life, leaving behind their beloved child and husband. It rings true, though. Because if we are honest, many of us go through low patches in life where it seems too hard to carry on. Each person has a lot to offer, especially to those who love them, and it is all too easy to forget that. When I read the moving account from her husband about how him and their daughter have had to carry on, it moved me to tears. How terribly tragic that if she could take back that last action, she almost certainly would. Her husband was certainly right when he concluded that she was so ill that she did not know what she was doing.

So here, in tribute to Elspeth Thompson The Wonderful Weekend Book . Enjoy every bit of life while it lasts. None of us ever really know when the end will come.


  1. So sorry to hear this. Yes depression is very real and it is not something you can just snap out of. I have suffered from it at times, It seems like you are trapped in a body that will not listen to you. Feelings you can't control and are afraid to tell. It is very frustrating and hard to think through it.
    It affects the person and their friends and family.
    I am so sorry for her daughter.

  2. That's a lovely tribute, I can tell that it's written from your heart. I knew of Elspeth's death at the time, and as your say, it's so very sad and tragic.

  3. This is a lovely tribute and thoughtful response. Like you, I was really sad to read news of her passing.