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Barbara Worl: A Profile

Articles: Barbara Worl: A Profile

Barbara Worl with wheelbarrow at the borrowed land on Cowper Street, Palo Alto, where she gardened for twenty years. Photograph by Mary Avery

Barbara Worl has been a pioneer, in spirit and in deed, for much of her life. Like Gertrude Jekyll, her nineteenth-century English kinswoman, Worl has blazed a path in horticulture through her love of old roses, and the arts of photography and publishing that grew from it.

A Midwestern native of sturdy Quaker stock, Barbara Worl has been a life-long member of the Society of Friends, a Christian sect that holds dear equality, peace-making, and the Inner Light. Quaker practices of simple living, plain dress, and plain speech grow from these beliefs—all practices that Worl has followed in her life. Just after World War II, as a young woman, Worl moved from Indiana to the San Francisco Peninsula to enroll in Stan-ford University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English history and a minor in English literature; she later pursued graduate studies in the same fields.

Worl has long had a hand in the literary arts. In September 1950, she began her lo...

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