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Thomas More is one of the great figures in English history. Pre-eminent as a courtier and as a humanist, a friend to Henry VIII and the author of Utopia, More's life and career epitomise the great transformation of England in the space of 35 years. Ackroyd investigates the paradox of this 'man for all seasons': the man of the world who travelled across Europe to negotiate on behalf of his king, and the unworldly man who's careful silence on the matter of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn would lead to his disgrace and execution. A magnificent achievement, The Life of Thomas More gives us a rich portrait of the man and the social and cultural world in which he lived.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749386405
ISBN-10: 0749386401
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 128mm x 29mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Mar-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » The picture of More that Ackroyd paints is unexpected. This is no man for all seasons, but a contradictory bureaucrat and an unforgiving Lord Chancellor. The only true love of More's life, Ackroyd says, was the law of the Catholic Church and it was his unbending devotion to Rome that would cost him his life. A vivid and enthralling biography. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A vividly evocative portrait of the lawyer and statesman who was "the King's good servant, but God's first," from award-winning biographer and novelist Ackroyd (Blake, 1996; T.S. Eliot, 1984; etc.) Thomas More was born in 1479 in Milk Street, in what is now the center of London's financial district, to Agnes and John More, a tradesman-turned-lawyer. Thomas would be one of the great intellects of his time, and Ackroyd gives particular attention to young More's rare and prolonged education: his apprenticeship at the court of the learned Archbishop and Chancellor John Morton of Canterbury, his grounding in the liberal arts at Oxford University, and his legal education at New Inn and Lincoln's Inn. More's upbringing and education, Ackroyd shows, left their permanent imprint upon him: His extensive training in dialectical logic served him well at the bar and on the bench, his time with Archbishop Morton made him familiar with the world of prelates and statecraft, and his Latin and literary training fitted him for his career as a humanist. Ackroyd vibrantly evokes the devout London in which More lived, where even successful lawyers meditated on life's transience and participated in endless rounds of prayer and ritual. He also gives an intimate picture of More's affectionate relations with his family and tells the familiar story of Mole's rise to favor in the court of Henry VIII, his friendship with Erasmus, his tenure as lord chancellor, and his fall from grace as the crisis of the king's divorce of Catherine of Aragon worsened. Ultimately, More's constancy to his church outweighed his obeisance to the king: Ackroyd gives what amounts to a transcript of the trial in which More refused to endorse Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn, and narrates his imprisonment in the Tower of London and execution in 1535. A limpidly written and superbly wrought portrait of a complex hero who was truly, as his friend Erasmus stated, "omnium horarum homo" - a "man for all seasons." (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, William Blake, Shakespeare and Wilkie Collins, as well as short books about Chaucer, J.M.W. Turner, Isaac Newton and most recently, Edgar Allen Poe. A bestselling biographer, historian, novelist and broadcaster, he holds a CBE for services to literature. He is the author of London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River, and lives in London.

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