Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Place in England, which was longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, the most recent being The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.
Photograph © ITV
‘Now is the Time’ is a fascinating, substantial, yet surprisingly contained novel given the subject matter. Detailing the people's rebellion of 1381, Melvyn Bragg imagines this time and breathes life into the foundations and advance of the rising. With an unpopular poll tax, corruption rife and the plague decimating swathes of the country, the uprising still surprises the court of the King. Bragg focuses on the alliances of the main characters, 14 year old Richard II and his mother, the priest John Ball and former soldier Walter Tyler. Find yourself carried along at the front of the rebellion where reason and control is somehow maintained, while the rioting rolling mass of people to the rear, almost become a backdrop rather than being the heart of the story. Personally, I found the relationship between Richard and his mother the most fully realised and therefore intriguing and compelling. It feels as you read, as though this could have been a truth, even the truth… as though you are reading history in the making. ~ Liz Robinson
Reaching from late 19th-century Cumbria to the present, this elegiac novel celebrates two spirited women: Grace, a farm labourer's daughter who fatefully followed her heart, and Mary, the child she was forced to give up. Unsung heroines according to Mary's son who, as his elderly mother's mind begins to fail, lovingly recreates their lives and the vanished country of their pasts, linking three generations in a chain of enduring love, loss and courage.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 7 April 2011. Melvyn Bragg places the Bible in context, giving us the background, the battle between Latin and “coarse” English, the story of the men who battled to translate the bible for everyman and the final development into the King James Bible. Once made its influence too is tracked, through war, religious divide and personal freedoms. As Melvyn Bragg says, you may be religious, of another religion or none, but undeniably this story of the making of the King James Bible and its influence is a history well-worth reading.Like for Like ReadingBegat: The King James Bible and the English Language, David CrystaBibles: An Illustrated History from Papyrus to Print, Christopher De Hamel
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 22 October 2009. The book adapted from Melvyn Bragg's Radio 4 show looking at the history of ideas through philosophy, literature and much, much more. A great 'dipping into' book.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 5 February 2009. The fourth in a series of semi-autobiographical novels. A fabulous portrait of 1960’s London and a passionate and tragic love story, told with a raw emotion that takes your breath away.
The beginning of this trilogy deals with the sadness of returning home after the terrible effects of war and finding a totally different world, to adjusting to a son you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know, a wife greatly changed and a life difficult to pick up again. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an excellent portrait of the time, beautifully written, a lovely book.Comparison: Sebastian Faulks, Andrew Greig, Simon Mawer.
'Melvyn Bragg's superb new history of the English language is told as an adventure story, and rightly so. There is much splendid intellectual firepower in this book.' Andrew Roberts, Spectator English is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever-changing and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures. English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years. 'Always readable, often thought-provoking and consistently entertaining.' Independent In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH is not only an enthralling story of power, religion and trade, but also the story of people, and how their day-to-day lives shaped and continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
Britain during the Dark Ages is the setting for the fascinating story of Bega, a young Irish princess who became a saint, and her lifelong bond with Padric, prince of the north-western kingdom of Rheged. This dramatic, far-reaching tale brings to life a land of warring kings, Christians and pagans, and tribes divided by language and culture, illuminating a little-known yet critical period in British history.
A classic love story, retold for our times. Heloise, a young scholar reputed to be the cleverest woman in 12th-century France, arrives in Paris set on entering the city's masculine world of learning. Frustrated in her wishes, she is stunned when the brilliant, radical philosopher, Peter Abelard, consents to be her tutor in exchange for lodgings with her uncle. But what starts out as a meeting of minds turns into a passionate, dangerous love affair, which sends shockwaves throughout the country and incurs terrible retribution. Nine centuries later, Arthur, an English academic, is in Paris attempting to recreate Heloise and Abelard's story in a novel. When his daughter Julia comes to visit, she agrees to help, interrogating his portraits of a couple who seem often inscrutable, sometimes strikingly modern. As she spars with her father, it becomes evident that Julia is on her own quest is to discover more about her parents' fractured relationship - and that Arthur's connection to his subject is more emotional than he cares to admit. In this profoundly thought-provoking, moving novel, Melvyn Bragg brings the 12th-century into the 21st as he breathes fresh life into one of history's most remarkable and enduring love stories.
'On the morning of 6 October 1536, a frail scholar was taken from a dungeon in the castle at Vilvoorde, just north of Brussels. Armed guards kept the crowds at bay as he was led through the streets of the small town. He was to be burned. The funeral pyre, a wigwam stack of planks surmounted by a cross, was ready. Gunpowder would be thrown on the wood to encourage the flames. He was allowed a few moments of prayer. As a priest, prayer had been the keystone of his faith. After the brief pause, he walked up the steps to be tied to the cross. As he waited for the flames, he called out, Lord, open the King of England's eyes! 'This was William Tyndale, the man whose translation of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament was to bring about more profound changes to the English-speaking world over the next five centuries than the works of any other man in its history.' From Chapter 1: Innocence and genius
John visits his ageing mother Mary in her nursing home by the sea, and mourns the slow fading of her mind. Hoping to shore up her memory, he prompts her with songs, photographs and questions about the 1940s, when she was a young woman and he a child in a small Cumbrian town. But he finds that most of all it is her own mother she longs for - Grace, the mother she barely knew. John sets out to recreate their buried family history, delving into the secrets and silences of Mary's fractured childhood as he imagines the life of her spirited mother. Reaching from the late 19th century to the present, this becomes a deeply moving, reflective elegy on three generations linked by a chain of love, loss, and courage.
One August bank holiday, Ted Johnson wakes to a day of reckoning - with his past in Cumberland, his present in London and his fantasies. An inflamed nerve troubles his eye as he veers between elation and despair, overwhelmed by the noise and bustle of the streets, unable to connect even with a visiting girlfriend. Written in 1971, Melvyn Bragg's sixth novel draws a remarkable portrait of a man's courageous fight to keep his mental balance and regain a sense of identity amid the stress and intoxication of modern city life.
The second volume of a trilogy that began with The Soldier's Return.After the upheavals of the Second World War, the Richardson family -- Sam, Ellen and their young son Joe -- settle back to working-class life in the Cumbrian town of Wigton. Yet for them, as for so many, life will never be the same again. As the old order begins to be challenged and new vistas open, Sam and Ellen forge their future together with differing needs and desires - and conflicting expectations of Joe, who grows up with his own demons to confront.Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade, Yucca, and Good Books imprints, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in fictionnovels, novellas, political and medical thrillers, comedy, satire, historical fiction, romance, erotic and love stories, mystery, classic literature, folklore and mythology, literary classics including Shakespeare, Dumas, Wilde, Cather, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
What drives a musician to write extraordinary songs? How do writers create their worlds? How does an actor achieve greatness? For over thirty years of The South Bank Show, Melvyn Bragg has interviewed many of the greatest cultural icons of our age. These interviews offer revelatory insights into the lives and work of writers, actors, artists and musicians. In The South Bank Show: Final Cut he has revisited some of these artists and used the interviews as the basis for fuller portraits. The range of artists is remarkable and this book is true to The South Bank Show's ethos of seeking out the highest quality whatever the art form. Melvyn Bragg's unique perspective makes this book indispensable for anyone interested in the work and lives of some of the best artists of our time.
Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time series regularly enlightens and entertains substantial audiences on BBC Radio 4. For this book he has selected episodes which reflect the diversity of the radio programmes, and takes us on an amazing tour through the history of ideas, from philosophy, physics and history to religion, literature and biology. We can discover the reasons for the fall of the Byzantine empire, and why women were persecuted as witches in the seventeenth century. What shape is the origin of life? Where does our calendar come from? We can unearth the influence of prime numbers, Socrates and Tectonic plates. Melvyn Bragg orchestrates the ideas of leading academics in each field so that the dynamic and lively discussion from the programmes comes through vividly on the page. IN OUR TIME brings to life the signposts of history, the moments that significantly changed the world as we know it, and the individuals and ideas that made us what we are today.
Richard Burton: star. The roaring boy from the Welsh coal valleys who came to sport on the banks of the old Nile, playing great Antony to Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra. From the West End to Hollywood, from Camelot to Shakespeare, he drank, dazzled and despaired, playing out his life on the public stage. But there was another, quieter, off-stage Richard Burton, a face hidden from the multitude. Melvyn Bragg, allowed free access to the never-before-revealed Burton private notebooks, and with the cooperation of friends who have never spoken about him before, has brought together the private and public sides for the first time. Rich is the complete Richard Burton: a revelation.
When we think of great events in the history of the world, we tend to think of war, revolution, political upheaval or natural catastrophe. But throughout history there have been moments of vital importance that have taken place not on the battlefield, or in the palaces of power, or even in the violence of nature, but between the pages of a book. In our digitised age of instant information it is easy to underestimate the power of the printed word. In his fascinating new book accompanying the ITV series, Melvyn Bragg presents a vivid reminder of the book as agent of social, political and personal revolution. Twelve Books that Changed the World presents a rich variety of human endeavour and a great diversity of characters. There are also surprises. Here are famous books by Darwin, Newton and Shakespeare - but we also discover the stories behind some less well-known works, such as Marie Stopes' Married Love, the original radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - and even the rules to an obscure ball game that became the most popular sport in the world . . .
Set in Britain during the 1950s, this moving and evocative novel follows the intertwined fates of people crossing boundaries in their lives. As a teenager in the small northern town of Wigton, Joe Richardson falls in love with Rachel, just when her life is about to be uprooted. While his parents, Sam and Ellen, face the frontiers of middle age, Joe finds himself drawn by the intoxicating world outside home, and swept into situations that seem beyond his control. Vividly conveying the spirit of the mid-century and the profound social changes taking place at the time, this is a masterly successor to the award-winning THE SOLDIER'S RETURN and A SON OF WAR.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize After the upheavals of the Second World War, the Richardson family - Sam, Ellen and their young son Joe - settle back to working-class life in the Cumbrian town of Wigton. Yet for them, as for so many, life will never be the same again. As the old order begins to be challenged and new vistas open, Sam and Ellen forge their future together with differing needs and desires - and conflicting expectations of Joe, who grows up with his own demons to confront.
Set in Cumbria and covering the period from 1898 to the early twenties, this is the powerful saga of John Tallentire, first farm labourer, then coal miner, and his wife Emily. John's struggle to break free from the humiliating status of a 'hired man' is the theme of a novel which has been hailed as a classic of its kind - as meticulously detailed as a social document, as evocative as the writings of Hardy and Lawrence.
Douglas Tallentire has at last achieved what his father and grandfather before him fought for so bitterly. Educated and independent, he can carve out his own career and spread his wings. But success, freedom and happiness are more elusive than ever in the fiercely competitive Seventies. From Cumbria to the frenetic whirl of sophisticated life in New York and London, Douglas, like all the Tallentires, must come to terms with private uncertainty and pain.
Joseph Tallantire has hope and ambition - like his father before him he is determined to make something of himself and improve his lot. But life is not easy for an uneducated young man in Cumberland before and during World War II, and Joseph's struggle against the odds is the subject of this moving and evocative novel. Suffering hardship and humiliation but eventually achieving a position of some independence, Joseph serves as a tribute to the many like him who lived through one of Britain's periods of greatest social change.