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Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  174 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In a volume as captivating as its subject, Florence Broadhurst paints an unforgettable portrait of a woman ahead of her time. To this day, mystery shrouds her myriad personaestarlet, couturier, painteras well as her unsolved murder. One thing, however, is certain: Broadhurst's place in the history of interior dcor. Recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking wallpaper patt ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published March 29th 2007 by Chronicle Books (first published April 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 22, 2011 Anna rated it it was ok
Shelves: trash, magic-carpet
Just a gorgeous object and worth having for the reproduction of the wallpapers. I'll never be able to afford to hang any.

Two thoughts:

Firstly, I can't believe it took so long for someone to kill Florence. She was just insufferable.

Secondly, for a book on an inventive and accomplished liar, who had toured China and the sub-continent in the dirty dying days of Colonial knees-up, who then popped up in London as a faux-Parisian couturier to the bobos on the up-and-up and finally returning to have a
Nov 04, 2011 Lizzie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Interior decorators, Australians
Recommended to Lizzie by: Debbie Gross
A biography of Florence Broadbent, an Australian woman who had a career as a singer in various places, then ran a dress shop, and finally, back in Australia, reinvented herself in the 70s as a high end wallpaper designer. She was a crazy, flamboyant personality whose designs are now being reproduced and have appeared in museums where she's regarded as a pioneer of Australian design. She was murdered in her studio and the crime remains unsolved (though she was known to carry large sums of money a ...more
Lorenzio Phillibuster Fireworks
This was a very special book. If I could have justified buying the very expensive book as a student I would have. The entire book, cover, the paper used, the pictures and the text were all an art experience.

I first learnt of Florence Broadhurst and her work through a TAFE excursion to Signature Prints, the company that bought her designs and silk screens and brought them back to life. The next year I chose to study her as a designer but what was so amazing about Florence Broadhurst's life was t
Oct 09, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
One of the most intriguing biographies I have ever read! Florence Broadhurst went from young starlet traveling the world to a newly married couturier to grand dame of wallpaper design. She was a true master of reinvention! All the more fascinating is her mysterious murder that remains unsolved today. This book reads like a fictional mystery, making it hard to put down once you start.

And if the story doesn't pique your interest even just a little, the full color pages of her work are AMAZING. Thi
Vivienne Strauss
Oct 14, 2014 Vivienne Strauss rated it it was amazing
Completely mesmerizing and inspiring! Sat down with this last night intending to read a chapter or two but couldn't stop until I finished.
May 16, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies-etc
Another split review. The design of the book is incredible and is of the highest quality. Broadhurst's designs leap off the page in a dazzling array of styles and colors. She (or whoever really did design them) was incredibly gifted and this book will be a treasure trove for designers (5 stars for design).

The text of the book is another story. The problem is that too much of the story is devoted to examining who murdered her. For someone who lived in a large manner over three continents and then
May 01, 2009 Hope rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2008 Erika rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2009 Jody rated it really liked it
While there are a countable 97 awesomely beautiful, psychedelic, victorian, op art, refined, Japanese-inspired, geometric gamut running designs in this book that will alternately make you laugh/gasp/drop your jaw, you can't necessarily count the number of interesting, if fake and fabulous, stories Broadhurst told about herself. Rad.
Jennifer Sullivan
Jan 05, 2008 Jennifer Sullivan rated it really liked it
Perfect combo of my three topics; design, murder and fraud. The character, Florence Broadhurst was just that, a character. A woman that constantly reinvented herself to get ahead and succeed. She gets whacked in the end but it only adds to the appeal of her story. Loved it and gorgeous reproductions of her work. If not for the story, pick it up for a design reference book.
Muffy Kroha
Nov 17, 2007 Muffy Kroha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like a real life character
This is the lady who invented reinvention. She was an Australian who ended her days as a famous wallpaper designer- Fabulous stuff BTW-She even got herself murdered in her 70's- But her life leading up to this is nuts-running away to a career on the stage in the Orient as a young girl- Fashion designer in London later on- Lots of husbands and a whole lot more- It's a good one!
Jenny Thayer
Mar 04, 2011 Jenny Thayer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a compelling biography. Mysterious lady, who you never really figure out. Who will ever know the truth? Her design house produces some amazing work during it's time. I find the most amazing designs are the ones you only get to see a photograph of a room, but can't see the design up close. Such a shame.
Dec 20, 2007 Belinda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: designers, entrepreneurs
Quite apart from the gorgeous textile designs, this is a great yarn (pun intended). Florence was almost blind, yet she produced an amazing array of designs right up until her untimely and still-unsolved murder. She was incredibly resourceful, a career chameleon, and knew exactly how to make a profit from society's snobbery.
Nov 29, 2009 Agnes rated it really liked it
Got this mainly to see the wallpaper designs and learn how Florence set up the wallpaper business but got more that I expected. It was fascinating to read about such a colourful character. She reinvented herself so many times. A remarkable person who is still a mystrey today. Beautiful cover and great designs.
Jan 26, 2008 Erica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: visual artists, people interested in facades and extraordinary lives
Recommended to Erica by: stumbled upon it by pure luck
I have a love/hate relationship with Florence Broadhurst. She was dynamic woman who manipulated reality. Her life and work are fascinating and beautiful, and the story of her demise curious for readers fascinated w/ mystery and murder (such as myself).
lindsey dee
Jun 19, 2007 lindsey dee rated it liked it
well worth the read. my issue with nonfiction is typically the writing itself, and that is my issue here. the narrative has little flow. but the story itself and the wallpaper images throughout the book absolutely make up for it.
Mar 17, 2011 Rachael rated it really liked it
Great book. It was a very interesting story about a woman that constantly reinvented herself and ultimately her murder. The end felt rushed, but the preceding chapters about Broadhursts' many lives were quiet detailed. I recommend it.
Apr 18, 2014 Susanne rated it it was amazing
Always loved her work & so wanted to know the backstory. There has been so little written about Florence who seems to have been a fascinating person, let alone a pioneering business woman for her time!
HIGHLY recommend this!
Jul 29, 2008 liza rated it liked it
salacious love affairs, secret identities, bold patterns, pretty much an US weekly issue as a biography.
Jeffrey Brown
Jun 20, 2008 Jeffrey Brown rated it really liked it
extraordinary for sure. amazing woman, amazing vision. sociopathic visionary.
Ali Edwards
Jan 09, 2008 Ali Edwards rated it really liked it
Bought this one to be inspired by the patterns but am really enjoying the very interesting story of her life as well.
Feb 02, 2008 Camille rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with creative or artistic flair.
I love the visual aspects of this book --I find it very inspiring. The life of Florence is very intriguing. I admire her in many ways.
Feb 23, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-biography
beautiful patterns (with some slightly annoying commentary) - fascinating story and a quick read.
Jul 15, 2007 Joanna rated it really liked it
the story was pretty interesting but the writing wasn't all that great. i really loved the samples of her wallpaper though. it's a very pretty book.
Elsie Klumpner
Jan 11, 2014 Elsie Klumpner rated it really liked it
Weird woman, weird book.
Sep 28, 2007 Kelsey rated it really liked it
you wouldn't think a biography about a textile designer would be so entertaining, but then you would be wrong.
Apr 16, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it
ooooh...such a fascinating character! such a pretty book! gorgeous wallpapers all. evil, manipulative queen. could a movie be next?
May 15, 2008 Esme rated it liked it
interesting biography... it's informative if you are interested in screenprinting, and it's inspiring. i love the textiles.
Sep 08, 2013 erica rated it liked it
Shelves: art, memoir-bio
i blogged about this here
May 20, 2016 Anneb rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
Interesting but I found the emphasis on the latter ownership a bit annoying - snobbish.
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