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Books by Peter Ackroyd

  • Revolution

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: BHAKG
    Paperback
    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.
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  • Civil War

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ANIFH
    Paperback
    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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  • Foundation

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AECBW
    Paperback 16 years +
    Having written enthralling biographies of London and of its great river, the Thames, Peter Ackroyd now turns to England itself. This first volume of six takes us from the time that England was first settled, more than 15,000 years ago, to the death in 1509 of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII. In it, Ackroyd takes us from Neolithic England, which we can only see in the most tantalising glimpses a stirrup found in a grave, some seeds at the bottom of a bowl to the long period of Roman rule; from the Dark Ages when England was invaded by a ceaseless tide of Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to the twin glories of medieval England its great churches and monasteries and its common law. With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place, he tells the familiar story of king succeeding king in rich prose, with profound insight and some surprising details. The food we ate, the clothes we wore, the punishments we endured, even the jokes we told are all found here, too.
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  • Dominion

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: BZPGH
    Paperback
    '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.
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  • London: A Traveller's Reader

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: BPPHF
    Paperback
    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.
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  • Queer City

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: BPKAC
    Paperback
    *** A Sunday Times Bestseller *** 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.
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  • Alfred Hitchcock

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ASMHW
    Paperback
    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' 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.
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  • Charlie Chaplin

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AMXMQ
    Paperback
    He was the very first icon of the silver screen, and is one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood, even a hundred years on from his first film. But what of the man behind the moustache? The director holding the camera as well as acting in front of it? Peter Ackroyd's new biography turns the spotlight on Chaplin's life as well as his work, from his humble theatrical beginnings in music halls to winning an honorary Academy Award. Everything is here, from the glamour of his golden age to the murky scandals of the 1940s and eventual exile to Switzerland. This masterful brief life offers fresh revelations about one of the most familiar faces of the last century and brings the Little Tramp into vivid colour.
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  • Tudors

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AGYGV
    Paperback 16 years +
    Rich in detail and atmosphere and told in vivid prose, Tudors recounts the transformation of England from a settled Catholic country to a Protestant superpower. 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.
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  • Wilkie Collins

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AGDRR
    Paperback
    Short and oddly built, with a head too big for his body, extremely short-sighted, unable to stay still, dressed in colourful clothes, Wilkie Collins looked distinctly strange. But he was none the less a charmer, befriended by the great, loved by children, irresistibly attractive to women - and avidly read by generations of readers. Peter Ackroyd follows his hero, 'the sweetest-tempered of all the Victorian novelists', from his childhood as the son of a well-known artist to his struggling beginnings as a writer, his years of fame and his life-long friendship with the other great London chronicler, Charles Dickens. As well as his enduring masterpieces, "The Moonstone" - often called the first true detective novel - and the sensational "The Woman in White", he produced an intriguing array of lesser-known works. Told with Ackroyd's inimitable verve, this is a ravishingly entertaining life of a great storyteller, full of surprises, rich in humour and sympathetic understanding.
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  • London Under

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFY
    Paperback
    "London Under" is an atmospheric, imaginative introduction to everything that goes on under London, from original springs and streams and Roman amphitheatres to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts and modern Underground stations. This book tunnels down through the geological layers, meeting the creatures, both real and fictional, that dwell in the darkness - rats and eels, monsters and ghosts. From the Anglo-Saxon graves under St Paul's, to the hydraulic device in Kensal Green cemetery which lowered bodies into the catacombs below, to the fossils uncovered when the Victoria Line was built and the gold bars within the Bank of England's vaults, "London Under" takes you into a hidden world, beneath our feet.
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  • London

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFX
    Paperback
    This is an abridged edition of Peter Ackroyd's magisterial biography of the city of London. Prize-winning historian, novelist and broadcast, Peter Ackroyd takes us on a journey - historical, geographical and imaginative - through the city of London. Moving back and forth through time, Ackroyd is an effortless, exuberant guide to times of plague and pestilence, fire and floods, crime and punishment, and sex and theatre. He brings the ever changing streets alive for the reader and shows us what lies beneath our feet and above our heads. His biography is as rich in detail and fizzing with vitality as the city itself.
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  • The Lambs of London

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFW
    Paperback
    Mary Lamb is confined by the restrictions of domesticity: her father is losing his mind, her mother watchful and hostile. The great solace of her life is her brother Charles, an aspiring writer. It is no surprise when Mary falls for the bookseller's son, antiquarian William Ireland, from whom Charles has purchased a book. But this is no ordinary book - it once belonged to William Shakespeare himself. And William Ireland with his green eyes and his red hair, is no ordinary young man...The Lambs of London brilliantly creates an urban world of scholars and entrepreneurs, a world in which a clever son will stop at nothing to impress his showman father, and no one knows quite what to believe. Ingenious and vividly alive, The Lambs of London is a poignant, gripping novel of betrayal and deceit.
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  • Newton

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFV
    Paperback
    Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the English genius, made his greatest contributions to original thought before the age of twenty-five, while at home in Lincolnshire escaping the great plague of 1665, a period of which he wrote: "I was in the prime of age for invention." Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, an MP, Master of the Mind and President of the Royal Society, Newton, the author of "Principia", one of the most important books in the history of science, was fascinated by calculus, the planets and the 'laws of motion', and, in keeping with his age, blurred the borders between natural philosophy and speculation: he was as passionate about astrology as astronomy and dabbled in alchemy, while his religious faith was never undermined by his scientific efforts.
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  • Shakespeare

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFU
    Paperback
    Peter Ackroyd's marvellous biography is a living attempt to reach into the heart of Shakespeare.He creates an intimate and immediate connection with his subject, so that the book reads like the work of a contemporary - meeting Shakespeare afresh on his own ground.Written with intuition and imagination unique to Peter Ackroyd, this is a book by a writer about a writer, and a fascinating and detailed depiction of the world Shakespeare inhabited.
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  • Chaucer

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFO
    Paperback
    Geoffrey Chaucer has some claim to being the greatest poet in the English language. Yet he has also been considered to be an invisible poet, self-depreciating and ironic, leaving only the breath of his comedy behind. In truth a great deal is known of him. He was a royal servant, who was indicted for rape. He was captured in battle and held for ransom. He knew at first hand the most powerful people in the country and, as the king's servant; he was concerned with the most pressing events of the realm. Yet even in this crowded life he found time and opportunity to write some of the finest poems in the language. Troilus and Criseyde is the first modern work of English literature. His genius was prolific and diverse and, while he was a true London artist, he was also part of the European renaissance of learning. The Canterbury Tales is an epic of Englishness itself, presided over by the genial and generous figure of Geoffrey Chaucer.
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  • The Fall of Troy

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFN
    Paperback
    'I cannot wait to bring you to the plain of Troy. To show you the place where Hector and Achilles fought. To show you the palace of Priam. And the walls where the Trojan women watched their warriors in battle with the invader. It will stir your blood, Sophia.' Sophia Chrysanthis is only 16 when the German archaeologist Herr Obermann comes wooing: he wants a Greek bride who knows her Homer. Sophia passes his test, and soon she is tieing canvas sacking to her legs so that she can kneel on the hard ground in the trench, removing the earth methodically, identifying salient points, lifting out amphorae and bronze vessels without damaging them. 'Archaeology is not a science,' Obermann says. 'It is an art.' Obermann is very good at the art of archaeology - perhaps too good at it. The atmosphere at Troy is tense and mysterious. Sophia finds herself increasingly baffled by the past ...not only the remote past that Obermann is so keen to share with her in the form of his beloved epics of the Trojan wars, but also his own, recent past - a past that he has chosen to hide from her. But she, too, is very good at the art of archaeology ...
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  • A Brief Guide to William Shakespeare

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFL
    Paperback
    This is an accessible and entertaining journey through the life, times, and work of the Bard - Enigma, Master of language. Is he the greatest comedian in history or the most famous writer in the world? But isn't he a little bit boring? This is an essential guide for anyone who has previously avoided the Bard, and is the perfect introduction for first time students or seasoned theatre lovers. The book contains a full commentary of all the plays by bestselling and renowned writer Peter Ackroyd as well as full descriptions of the cast and the drama; not forgetting the best speeches, and the wit and wisdom from across the works. There is also an opportunity to explore the poems and a complete set of sonnets, as well as an investigation of who the dark lady might have been. It contains: the complete sonnets; the greatest speeches; and, the best lines. It is perfect for students struggling through their first play or for theatre lovers anywhere. It is entertaining, accessible, Shakespeare without the boring bits.
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  • The Clerkenwell Tales

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFK
    Paperback
    The scene is London, in 1399. It is the last year of the fourteenth century, and there is talk of an apocalypse. Richard II is on the throne, yet strange signs and portents are troubling the latter part of his reign. By the side of the River Fleet in Clerkenwell the people are restless, disenchanted with the church and their King. The streets of London are rife with rumour, heresy, espionage and murder and at the centre of the confusion is the nun, Sister Clarice, who has been vouchsafed visions of the future. Is she a genuine prophet, or the tool of earthly powers? This is a story of adventure and suspense set in the late medieval world. As in many of Peter Ackroyd's novels the distant past is no longer a foreign country but something alarmingly close and authentic. As one critic has put it, 'he is our age's greatest London imagination'.
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  • Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ADBFI
    Paperback
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  • The English Ghost

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ACSVF
    Paperback
    The English see more ghosts than any other nation. From medieval times to the present day, stories have been told about ghosts who avenge injustice, souls who long for peace and spooks who just want to have fun. "The English Ghost" is a treasure trove of such sightings; comical and scary, like all the best ghost stories, these accounts, packed with eerie detail, range from the moaning child that terrified Wordworth's nephew at Cambridge to modern day hitchhikers on Blue Bell Hill.
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  • The Death of King Arthur

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: ABRHL
    Paperback
    This is an immortal story of chivalry, treachery and death told anew for our times. The legend of King Arthur has retained its appeal and popularity through the ages: Mordred's treason, the knightly exploits of Tristan, Lancelot's fatally divided loyalties and his love for Guenevere, the quest for the Holy Grail. Now retold by Peter Ackroyd with his signature clarity, charm and relish for a good story, the result is not only one of the most readable accounts of the knights of the Round Table but also one of the most moving.
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  • The Canterbury Tales

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AAEAI
    Paperback
    "The Canterbury Tales" is a major part of England's literary heritage. From the exuberant Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend to the Miller's worldly, ribald farce, these tales can be taken as a mirror of fourteenth-century London. Incorporating every style of medieval narrative - bawdy anecdote, allegorical fable and courtly romance - the tales encompass a blend of universal human themes. Ackroyd's retelling is a highly readable, prose version in modern English, using expletive and avoiding euphemism, making the Tales much more accessible to a new generation of readers. The edition also includes an introduction by Ackroyd, detailing some of the historical background to Chaucer and the Tales, and why he has been inspired to translate them for a new generation of readers.
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  • Hawksmoor

    Peter Ackroyd

    Product Code: AADPX
    Paperback
    "Penguin Decades" bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling. Peter Ackroyd's "Hawksmoor" was first published in 1985. Alternating between the eighteenth century, when Nicholas Dyer, assistant to Christopher Wren, builds seven London churches that house a terrible secret, and the 1980s, when London detective Nicholas Hawksmoor is investigating a series of gruesome murders on the sight of certain old churches, "Hawksmoor" is a brilliant tale of darkness and shadow.
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