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Peter Ackroyd - Author

About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is of course a Cockney visionary himself. He has written and presented a 3-part TV series for the BBC on London and few of his prize-winning biographies and novels stray far from his London obsessions - Turner was one of the subjects of a lecture that Ackroyd gave at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1993 (also televised) entitled London Luminaries and Cockney Visionaries; and Turner was also central to his Times article on Reflections on British art. He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers, Thames: Sacred River and London: The Biography. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

Featured books by Peter Ackroyd

Revolution A History of England Volume IV

Revolution A History of England Volume IV

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/09/2016

Late Stuart and Georgian England marked the creation of the great pillars of the English state. The Bank of England was founded, as was the stock exchange, the Church of England was fully established as the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation and parliament became the sovereign body of the nation with responsibilities and duties far beyond those of the monarch. It was a revolutionary era in English letters, too, a time in which newspapers first flourished and the English novel was born. It was an era in which coffee houses and playhouses boomed, gin flowed freely and in which shops, as we know them today, began to proliferate in our towns and villages. But it was also a time of extraordinary and unprecedented technological innovation, which saw England utterly and irrevocably transformed from a country of blue skies and farmland to one of soot and steel and coal.

Three Brothers

Three Brothers

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/12/2014

Three Brothers follows the fortunes of Harry, Daniel and Sam Hanway, born on a post-war council estate in Camden Town. Marked out from the start by curious coincidence, each boy is forced to make his own way in the world - a world of dodgy deals and big business, of criminal gangs and crooked landlords, of newspaper magnates, back-biters and petty thieves. London is the backdrop and the connecting fabric of these three lives, reinforcing Ackroyd's grand theme that place and history create, surround and engulf us. From bustling, cut-throat Fleet Street to hallowed London publishing houses, from the wealth and corruption of Chelsea to the smoky shadows of Limehouse and Hackney, this is an exploration of the city, peering down its streets, riding on its underground, and drinking in its pubs and clubs. Everything is possible - not only in the new freedom of the 1960s but also in London's timeless past.

ebook of the month
Civil War A History of England

Civil War A History of England

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/09/2014

In Civil War, Peter Ackroyd continues his dazzling account of England's history, beginning with the progress south of the Scottish king, James VI, who on the death of Elizabeth I became the first Stuart king of England, and ends with the deposition and flight into exile of his grandson, James II. The Stuart dynasty brought together the two nations of England and Scotland into one realm, albeit a realm still marked by political divisions that echo to this day. More importantly, perhaps, the Stuart era was marked by the cruel depredations of civil war, and the killing of a king. Ackroyd paints a vivid portrait of James I and his heirs. Shrewd and opinionated, the new King was eloquent on matters as diverse as theology, witchcraft and the abuses of tobacco, but his attitude to the English parliament sowed the seeds of the division that would split the country in the reign of his hapless heir, Charles I. Ackroyd offers a brilliant - warts and all - portrayal of Charles's nemesis Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's great military leader and England's only dictator, who began his career as a political liberator but ended it as much of a despot as 'that man of blood', the king he executed. England's turbulent seventeenth century is vividly laid out before us, but so too is the cultural and social life of the period, notable for its extraordinarily rich literature, including Shakespeare's late masterpieces, Jacobean tragedy, the poetry of John Donne and Milton and Thomas Hobbes' great philosophical treatise, Leviathan. Civil War also gives us a very real sense of the lives of ordinary English men and women, lived out against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.

Tudors A History of England

Tudors A History of England

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/09/2012

It is the story of Henry VIII's cataclysmic break with Rome, and his relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under 'Bloody Mary'. It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against the queen and even an invasion force, finally brought stability. Above all, however, it is the story of the English Reformation and the making of the Anglican Church. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, England was still largely feudal and looked to Rome for direction; at its end, it was a country where good governance was the duty of the state, not the church, and where men and women began to look to themselves for answers rather than to those who ruled them.

London Under

London Under

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2011

The depth below is hot, warmer than the surface, and tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures that dwell in darkness, real and fictional – rats and eels, monsters and ghosts. There is a Bronze Age trackway under the Isle of Dogs, Anglo-Saxon graves were found under St Paul's, and the monastery of Whitefriars lies beneath Fleet Street. In Kensal Green cemetery a hydraulic device lowered bodies into the catacombs below – ‘Welcome to the lower depths’ – while a door in the plinth of the statue of Boadicea on Westminster Bridge leads to a huge tunnel, packed with cables for gas, water and telephone lines. When the Metropolitan Line was opened in 1864 the guards asked for permission to grow beards to protect themselves against the sulphurous fumes, and called their engines by the names of tyrants – Czar, Kaiser, Mogul – and even Pluto, god of the underworld. 'The vastness of the space, a second earth,’ writes Peter Ackroyd, ‘elicits sensations of wonder and of terror. It partakes of myth and dream in equal measure.’ Going under London is to penetrate history, to enter a hidden world.

ebook of the month

Other books by Peter Ackroyd

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/09/2019

'Ackroyd makes history accessible to the layman' - Ian Thomson, Independent The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd's masterful History of England series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901. In it, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the 'Sailor King', whose reign saw the modernization of the political system and the abolition of slavery. But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress - from steam railways to the first telegram - swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty. It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England. Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria's reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/09/2018

'Ackroyd makes history accessible to the layman' - Ian Thomson, Independent The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd's masterful History of England series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901. In it, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the 'Sailor King', whose reign saw the modernization of the political system and the abolition of slavery. But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress - from steam railways to the first telegram - swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty. It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England. Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria's reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Dominion A History of England Volume V

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/09/2018

'Ackroyd makes history accessible to the layman' - Ian Thomson, Independent The penultimate volume of Peter Ackroyd's masterful History of England series, Dominion begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to post-war depression, spanning the last years of the Regency to the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901. In it, Ackroyd takes us from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, who was firmly set against reform, to the reign of his brother, William IV, the 'Sailor King', whose reign saw the modernization of the political system and the abolition of slavery. But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, aged only eighteen, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress - from steam railways to the first telegram - swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas across the nation. But though intense industrialization brought boom times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long working hours and dire poverty. It was a time that saw a flowering of great literature, too. As the Georgian era gave way to that of Victoria, readers could delight not only in the work of Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth but also the great nineteenth-century novelists: the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Mrs Gaskell, Thackeray, and, of course, Dickens, whose work has become synonymous with Victorian England. Nor was Victorian expansionism confined to Britain alone. By the end of Victoria's reign, the Queen was also an Empress and the British Empire dominated much of the globe. And, as Ackroyd shows in this richly populated, vividly told account, Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

Queer City Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day

Queer City Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/05/2018

`Droll, provocative and crammed to busting with startling facts' Simon Callow, Guardian In this powerful Sunday Times bestseller Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way - through the history and experiences of its gay population. In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (`wolf dens' or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure. Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS. Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.

London: A Traveller's Reader

London: A Traveller's Reader

Author: Peter Ackroyd, Thomas Wright Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/05/2018

Loved and hated in equal measure, London was for centuries the world's greatest city. Its streets, teeming with history, have always worn a variety of influences, reflecting the diverse crowds who have walked them. Its citizens have witnessed everything from pilgrimages, celebrations, acts of heroism and moments of religious contemplation to riots, executions, grisly murders and disastrous plagues and fires. Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs of London's most interesting inhabitants and visitors, this anthology compiled by acclaimed historian Thomas Wright and with an introduction by Peter Ackroyd tells the story of the city from its earliest years. Here you will find John Evelyn's famous account of the Great Fire in 1666, Dickens's brilliant evocation of the Gordon Riots of 1780, an eyewitness description of the execution of Charles I, and Churchill's recollections of the Blitz. There are also less familiar, though no less vivid, excerpts, which provide an entertaining, sometimes risque glimpse into the life, customs and morals of this great city.

Chatterton

Chatterton

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 22/09/2017

1770 stirbt in London der geniale Dichter Thomas Chatterton von eigener Hand, noch keine achtzehn Jahre alt. Zwei Jahrhunderte spater macht ein junger Schriftsteller eine Entdeckung, die ihn an der Literaturgeschichte zweifeln lat. Hat Chatterton den Selbstmord nur vorgetauscht, um in Ruhe weiterschreiben zu konnen? Welche entdeckten Manuskripte sind echt, welche Falschungen? Wer war Chatterton wirklich? Eine vieldeutige Komodie der Irrungen und Eitelkeiten, aber auch ein leidenschaftliches Pladoyer fur das ratselhafte Wesen der Kunst und Poesie.

Die Uhr in Gottes Handen

Die Uhr in Gottes Handen

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 22/09/2017

Durch einen Waldbrand wird ein geheimnisvoller Grabhugel freigelegt. Und fortan scheiden sich daran die "e;Geister"e;. Ein moderner Schauerroman, der sich ber die Auswchse der Esoterik amsiert, aber gleichzeitig getragen ist von der Achtung vor der mystischen Kraft des Vergangenen.

Der Fall des Baumeisters

Der Fall des Baumeisters

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 22/09/2017

Nicholas Dyer wird nach dem groen Brand von London im fruhen 18. Jahrhundert mit dem Neubau von sieben Kirchen beauftragt. Sie sollen das aufbluhende Zeitalter der Vernunft, den Geist der Wissenschaft reprasentieren. Doch der geheimnisvolle Dyer fuhlt sich alteren Idealen verpflichtet: Seine Kirchen stehen auf den Uberresten vorchristlicher Kultstatten, ihr Bau folgt obskuren Gesetzmaigkeiten der Schwarzen Magie. Und ihre Fertigstellung fordert schreckliche Blutopfer. Zwei Jahrhunderte spter: Nicholas Hawksmoor, Inspektor bei Scotland Yard, untersucht eine geradezu irrsinnige Serie von Morden an Kindern und Stadtstreichern. Ihr einziges gemeinsames Merkmal: Sie geschehen in unmittelbarer Nhe gewisser Kirchen aus dem 18. Jahrhundert. Logik hilft bei der Aufklrung ebensowenig weiter wie modernste kriminalistische Methoden. Eher scheint ein anonymer Brief mit seltsamen kabbalistischen Zeichen auf die richtige Spur zu weisen. Angesichts der Verbrechen zweifelt Inspektor Hawksmoor, wie Dyer, an der Kraft des aufgeklrten Verstandes. In schmutzigen Absteigen und Schenken der Londoner Slums geht er scheinbar albernen Gerchten von einem frchterlichen Geist aus der Vergangenheit nach, der gekommen sei, die Frevel der modernen Zivilisation zu rchen. Immer tiefer zieht es Hawksmoor in den Strudel einer horriblen magischen Unterwelt: Er hrt gespenstische Stimmen, fhlt sich verfolgt und kann nicht mehr zwischen Traum und Wirklichkeit unterscheiden. Ist es mglich, da Dyer noch lebt? Oder hat am Ende er selber in geistiger Umnachtung die Morde begangen?

Der Golem von Limehouse

Der Golem von Limehouse

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 22/09/2017

1880 im Londoner Stadtteil Limehouse. In Herbstnachten geht ein Morder um. Eines seiner schrecklich verstummelten und nach okkulten Ritualen zerlegten Opfer ist der judische Gelehrte Salomon Weil. Neben seiner Leiche liegt ein Lexikon, das beim Stichwort "e;Golem"e; aufgeschlagen ist. Er ist ein Bekannter von Karl Marx. Die Morde hren erst auf, als ein Jahr spter die Aktrice Elizabeth Cree den Tod am Strang stirbt. Sie soll ihren Mann mit Arsen vergiftet haben. Auch er war ein Bekannter von Karl Marx, und so gert schlielich Marx selbst in Verdacht, der Golem von Limehouse zu sein. Doch das eigentliche Geheimnis dieses Romans liegt tiefer. Thomas de Quinceys Essay "e;Der Mord als schne Kunst betrachtet"e; spielt bei der Aufklrung des Falles eine entscheidende Rolle. Auch die sozialen Utopien des Romanciers George Gissing oder die Ideen von Charles Babbage, dem Erfinder der Rechenmaschine, sind Schlssel zu den Verbrechen. Gissing und Babbage vertreten aufgeklrte Ideen, aber denen scheinen okkulte Gedanken zugrunde zu liegen, die dem Golem, jenem grauenhaften "e;Ding ohne Form"e;, erst Gestalt verleihen ... "e;Der Golem von Limehouse"e; ist ein fesselnder Thriller, der zugleich auf die schrecklichen Ereignisse unserer Epoche vorausdeutet, indem er zeigt, da es kein Licht ohne Dunkel gibt, keine Aufklrung ohne die Mchte der Finsternis.

Revolution A History of England Volume IV

Revolution A History of England Volume IV

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/09/2017

Revolution, the fourth volume of Peter Ackroyd's enthralling History of England begins in 1688 with a revolution and ends in 1815 with a famous victory. In it, Ackroyd takes readers from William of Orange's accession following the Glorious Revolution to the Regency, when the flamboyant Prince of Wales ruled in the stead of his mad father, George III, and England was - again -at war with France, a war that would end with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Late Stuart and Georgian England marked the creation of the great pillars of the English state. The Bank of England was founded, as was the stock exchange, the Church of England was fully established as the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation and parliament became the sovereign body of the nation with responsibilities and duties far beyond those of the monarch. It was a revolutionary era in English letters, too, a time in which newspapers first flourished and the English novel was born. It was an era in which coffee houses and playhouses boomed, gin flowed freely and in which shops, as we know them today, began to proliferate in our towns and villages. But it was also a time of extraordinary and unprecedented technological innovation, which saw England utterly and irrevocably transformed from a country of blue skies and farmland to one of soot and steel and coal.

The Limehouse Golem

The Limehouse Golem

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/08/2017

NOW AN UNMISSABLE FILM STARRING BILL NIGHY, DOUGLAS BOOTH AND OLIVIA COOKE. `Mesmerising, macabre and totally brilliant' Daily Mail Before the Ripper, fear had another name. London, 1880. A series of gruesome murders attributed to the mysterious 'Limehouse Golem' strikes fear into the heart of the capital. Inspector John Kildare must track down this brutal serial killer in the damp, dark alleyways of riverside London. But how does Dan Leno, music hall star extraordinaire, find himself implicated in this crime spree, and what does Elizabeth Cree, on trial for the murder of her husband, have to hide? Peter Ackroyd brings Victorian London to life in all its guts and glory, as we travel from the glamour of the music hall to the slums of the East End, meeting George Gissing and Karl Marx along the way.

Queer City Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day

Queer City Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/05/2017

*** A Sunday Times Bestseller *** In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way - through the history and experiences of its gay population. In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (`wolf dens' or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure. Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS. Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other. 'Peter Ackroyd is the greatest living chronicler of London' Independent

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 25/10/2016

A gripping short biography of the extraordinary Alfred Hitchock, the master of suspense. Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child. Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century? As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of him, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films: Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds. Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 02/08/2016

V istorii mirovogo kinematografa s imenem Al'freda Hichkoka - rezhissera, prodyusera, scenarista - nerazryvno svyazan zhanr trillera i ponyatie saspensa. Zakompleksovannyj tolstyak obladal volshebnym darom, pozvolyavshim emu obrashchat' vechno terzavshie ego strahi na pol'zu tvorchestvu: Hichkok masterski sozdaval v svoih fil'mah atmosferu trevozhnoj neopredelennosti i napryazhennogo ozhidaniya. Strannyj, sklonnyj k zhestokim rozygrysham chelovek, v molodosti ispytavshij vliyanie nemeckogo i russkogo kino, ne boyalsya ehksperimentirovat', i postoyanno ispol'zoval novatorskie, a poroj i shokiruyushchie priemy. Rovesnik kinematografa, on ros vmeste s nim, sozdavaya i razvivaya novye zhanry, ot komedijnogo trillera do fil'ma uzhasov i tonchajshego psihologicheskogo detektiva. Emu dovelos' rabotat' s samymi zvezdnymi akterami Gollivuda, takimi kak Ingrid Bergman, Kehri Grant, Dzhejms Styuart, Grejs Kelli. Fil'my Hichkoka stali klassikoj mirovogo kinematografa, on udostoen zvezdy na gollivudskoj Allee slavy, pochetnoj nagrady Amerikanskogo instituta kino, ordena Britanskoj imperii.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/03/2016

Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child. Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century? As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films. Grace Kelly, Carey Grant and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style, and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds. Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.

Civil War The History of England Volume III

Civil War The History of England Volume III

Author: Peter Ackroyd Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/05/2015

In Civil War, Peter Ackroyd continues his dazzling account of England's history, beginning with the progress south of the Scottish king, James VI, who on the death of Elizabeth I became the first Stuart king of England, and ends with the deposition and flight into exile of his grandson, James II. The Stuart dynasty brought together the two nations of England and Scotland into one realm, albeit a realm still marked by political divisions that echo to this day. More importantly, perhaps, the Stuart era was marked by the cruel depredations of civil war, and the killing of a king. Ackroyd paints a vivid portrait of James I and his heirs. Shrewd and opinionated, the new King was eloquent on matters as diverse as theology, witchcraft and the abuses of tobacco, but his attitude to the English parliament sowed the seeds of the division that would split the country in the reign of his hapless heir, Charles I. Ackroyd offers a brilliant - warts and all - portrayal of Charles's nemesis Oliver Cromwell, Parliament's great military leader and England's only dictator, who began his career as a political liberator but ended it as much of a despot as 'that man of blood', the king he executed. England's turbulent seventeenth century is vividly laid out before us, but so too is the cultural and social life of the period, notable for its extraordinarily rich literature, including Shakespeare's late masterpieces, Jacobean tragedy, the poetry of John Donne and Milton and Thomas Hobbes' great philosophical treatise, Leviathan. Civil War also gives us a very real sense of the lives of ordinary English men and women, lived out against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.

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