lawn ed 2 cover (458K)

Latest news

This book went out of print, and has been taken over by the author in a new, revised and updated edition, with lots of extras. The basic information about my book-revival program is here.

How do you get it?

There are two choices:

The Lawn: a social history

ISBN-13: 9798548866714, written by Peter Macinnis, published August 5, 2021 by Amazon

Why the second edition?

Basically, the first one went out of print , and while there is a continuing demand for small numbers, it's not commercially viable to do a reprint, so I took four days out to re-edit and redesign for both the e-book and the paper version. It now has my preferred images and also has some extra text.

Copyright matters

Copyright in the text was always mine, Paul O'Beirne's delicious design was the publisher's copyright, so instead of their vintage images, I have added a lot of photos that I took for the original version, and a few public domain images. This is by agreement with the original publishers, though to be frank, they had no real choice in the matter. An author's text only passes to the publisher if it is assigned, sold or ceded. I am too old and canny to ever do that, though I have had bureaucratic drones with he creative talent of a dead wombat try to claim that handing over rights was a condition of employment. I simply asked them for a notarised copy of the agreement I must have signed.

Moral: Never ever give an inch or even a millimetre to a eunuch. Anyhow, there was no argument between us.

Use this link for more information and some sample text.

Now here's the original first-edition info

ISBN-13: 9781741960396, written by Peter Macinnis, published June 26, 2009 by Murdoch Books in Australia

First up try this link to me discussing the book with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live.
I'm not sure how long it lasts, but I'll come back and check it from time to time.
I just did, 5/8/21, and you have to wait for 34 seconds of chimes to end. Cover, <i>Lawn</i>

The Lawn is a look at grass, lawn, and what has happened to the world as a result of people both equating and differentiating between grass and lawn. And what has happened as a result of people lusting after lawn, getting envious or jealous or protective over lawn, even killing over lawn. Lawn, in a few generations, has become a class indicator and a cause of official bullying, court cases, and terrible waste and pollution.

Grass has been around since about the time of the dinosaurs. Most references say it goes back 55 million years, but recent studies of fossilised dinosaur poo now point to an age of at least 65 million years.

Lawn is a different matter, it's modern stuff. Some "lawns" have been around since the middle ages, but those lawns would never pass muster today, not with the lawn snobs. They might have been neatly cropped, but they had many species, and the cropping was sometimes done with a scythe, but more often, animals had the task. True lawns as we know them, began in the middle of the Victorian era.

The lawn mower was invented in the 19th century, but it was only about 1860 that people started going mad about lawns, and this book traces the intertwined histories of mowers, architect-specified lawns, lawn sports from cricket to football to croquest and lawn tennis. Here, I need to bow briefly to Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World, because it was while I was writing that book that I discovered the many sports that arose in 1859, or within a year either side of it. This was just 30 years after the invention of the first reel lawn mower, the point at which the first patents expired. Most importantly, though, by 1859-60, the lawn-mower was a maturing technology.

I also found, while writing Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World, the incredible case of the sheep, struck by lightning in Hyde Park in 1859, while serving as a lawn mower. Some research led me to the discovery that Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, was clearing 2000 a year, buying up scrawny cattle and sheep, running them on the public parks in London, then selling them for meat when they were fattened up. From there, I moved on to examine the whole mens sana in corpore sano ethos, the legend that the Iron Duke claimed that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton (don't believe it!) and more, all of which also sprang up, just as the lawn mower became mature technology.

Royal palace, Ayutthaya, Thailand: grand lawns also require topiary, in this case, elephants!Vondelpark, Amsterdam, a classic 19th century parkKing's College, Cambridge, a classic lawn When you begin to look at lawns, mowers, and lawnsmanship, you begin to realise just how much lawns cost us, expecially in English-speaking countries, which smugly assert that only they truly care for lawn. Actually, Americans say that only they truly care for lawn, while the rest of the Anglophones widen the scope to us, but I visited a lot of lawns in a lot of countries, either in person of with Google Earth, while writing this book, as these two examples show.

Pictures: King's College, Cambridge, a classic lawn that inspired many imitations, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, a classic 19th century park and the royal palace, Ayutthaya, Thailand: grand lawns also require topiary, in this case, elephants!

I also looked at lawn ornamentation, lawn snobbery and much more. Lawn, it turns out, is much more than grass, and it rates much more highly. Our western, obese couch-potato, sports-mad society wouldn't be what it is, without lawn.

This file is

It was created on February 6, 2009 and last revised on October 15, 2021, when I added news about the new edition.

If you email me at macinnis at, you will reach a spam trap, but be read, eventually. If you put my first name in front of that address, you will reach me direct. This low-tech solution is to make email harvesting difficult.

The home page of this set is here.

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