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Harold Larwood by Duncan Hamilton

Harold Larwood

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Winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2009.

A thrilling account of a forgotten hero of English cricket. Harold Larwood's story touches on so many areas, including class structure in early 20th-century Britain, that the book will be of interest not only to cricket fans.


Harold Larwood by Duncan Hamilton

The Nottinghamshire bowler Harold Larwood was his country's chief weapon in the notorious 1932-3 Ashes tour, during which England's fast bowlers used so-called 'Bodyline' tactics to counter the threat posed by the great Australian batsman Don Bradman. Larwood's pace and hostility left Australia's batsmen battered, reduced Bradman to the status of mere mortal - and brought England a 4-1 series victory. But the fury it engendered brought Anglo-Australian relations to the brink of collapse.

After the series Larwood was used as a scapegoat by the MCC, which demanded he apologise for his intimidatory bowling. Arguing that he had simply obeyed the instructions of his captain Douglas Jardine, Larwood refused. He never played for England again. Frustrated and depressed, in 1953 he was encouraged to emigrate to Australia by some of the same men he had played against and injured in 1932-3.

The saga of Bodyline has been told before, but Larwood's own tale, particularly his attitude to the 1932-3 series and his shoddy treatment by the establishment there-after, has not. Using materials provided by Larwood's family, Duncan Hamilton charts the peaks and troughs of Larwood's life: from his mining village upbringing, through his rise to stardom, the shock of Bodyline and its traumatic aftermath, to his emigration to Sydney, where he and his family found happiness. Hamilton examines what his story tells us about issues of class and social standing in early 20th-century Britain, and about the codes and hierarchies that existed in a game that distinguish-ed rigidly between public-school amateurs and working-class professionals

A thrilling and moving recreation of the triumph, betrayal and redemption of a working-class hero and forgotten titan of English cricket, Harold Larwood will enthral and delight not only cricket fans, but all those who relish biographical writing of the highest quality.


This is cricket biography of the highest stamp, fit to compare in recent memory with Gideon Haigh's excavation of the life of Jack Iverson, David Foot's dramatic revisionism on Wally Hammond and Leo McKinstry's remarkably even-handed portrait of Geoff Boycott. Five stars
Wisden Cricketer

. * Wisden Cricketer * 'A near-masterpiece... a magnificently written, intensely moving story of... a great England fast bowler. ... If you want to know why the Ashes matter, you could do worse then lose yourself for a few days in the story of this great and humble man.
Mike Atherton, the Times

. * The Times * 'Finally Larwood's memory is honoured with the biography it deserves
Independent on Sunday

. * Independent on Sunday * 'Wonderful ... Meticulously researched and beautifully written. Please read it.
Mike Selvey, Guardian

. * Guardian * 'An excellent storyteller, Hamilton looks beyond the dry detail of Bodyline to illuminate its principal perpetrator
The Cricketer

. * The Cricketer *

About the Author

Duncan Hamilton is deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post. He is the author of the 2007 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, Provided You Don’t Kiss me: 20 Years with Brian Clough (Fourth Estate).

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Book Info

Publication date

29th April 2010


Duncan Hamilton

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riverrun an imprint of Quercus Publishing


400 pages


Sport from the Armchair
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Biography: sport



Publisher Profile

Quercus Publishing Plc is an imprint of Quercus

logo Quercus publisher
Starting out in a small office in Dorset Street, London, the company quickly expanded, producing best sellers with each of its first two titles, Universe and Speeches that Changed the World.

As well as winning awards for their books Quercus also won Small Publisher of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards and the PLUS New Company fo the Year in the Fast Growth Business Awards.

Publisher's Website

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