Synopses & Reviews
In this perfect companion to London: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd once again delves into the hidden byways of history, describing the river’s endless allure in a journey overflowing with characters, incidents, and wry observations.
Thames: The Biography meanders gloriously, rather like the river itself. In short, lively chapters Ackroyd writes about connections between the Thames and such historical figures as Julius Caesar and Henry the VIII, and offers memorable portraits of the ordinary men and women who depend upon the river for their livelihoods. He visits all the towns and villages along the river from Oxfordshire to London and describes the magnificent royal residences, as well as the bridges and docks, locks and weirs, found along its 215-mile run. The Thames as a source of artistic inspiration comes brilliantly to life as Ackroyd invokes Chaucer, Shakespeare, Turner, Shelley, and other writers, poets, and painters who have been enchanted by its many moods and colors.
In his signature entertaining and informative manner, Ackroyd allows the reader to dip into chapters in his own spirit, or to follow the Thames from source to sea.
Illustrated with maps and photographs, Thames is a vivid, highly original mosaic of life by and on the water.
"For a river with such a famous history, England's Thames measures only 215 miles. Acclaimed novelist and biographer Ackroyd (Hawksmoor; Shakespeare) invites readers on an eclectic, sprawling and delightful cruise of this important waterway. 'The Thames has been a highway, a frontier and an attack route; it has been a playground and a sewer, a source of water and a source of power,' writes Ackroyd. Historians believe the river may have been important for transport and commerce as early as the Neolithic Age. The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis has a long association with the Thames, which was used for baptisms, both pagan and Christian, during the Roman Empire. The British tribes tried to use the Thames as a defense against Julius Caesar's invasion, and the Normans built the Tower of London and Windsor Castle on the Thames as symbols of military preeminence. The royal waterway carried Anne Boleyn to both her coronation and her beheading, and famously served as inspiration for paintings by Turner and Monet and for Handel's Water Music, commissioned to associate the German-born George I with a potent source of English power. Elegant and erudite, Ackroyd's gathering of rich treats does the famed tributary proud. Illus., maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The sheer amount of detail economic, artistic, historical, political, geographical, mythological, geological, ecological, climatological, hydrological is dazzling, if potentially inundating. Readers may prefer to dip their toes into Thames
rather than take a full-immersion plunge....However you read it, Ackroyd's enthusiasm for his fascinating subject ensures that his book never become tedious." Kathryn Shevelow, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
Ackroyd writes about connections between the Thames and such historical figures as Julius Caesar and Henry VIII, and offers memorable portraits of the ordinary men and women who depend on the river for their livelihoods. Illustrated with maps and photographs.
Acclaimed biographer Peter Ackroyd vibrantly resurrects the legendary epic of Camelot in this modern adaptation
The names of Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Galahad, the sword of Excalibur, and the court of Camelot are as recognizable as any from the world of myth. Although many versions exist of the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory endures as the most moving and richly inventive.
In this abridged retelling the inimitable Peter Ackroyd transforms Malory's fifteenth-century work into a dramatic modern story, vividly bringing to life a world of courage and chivalry, magic, and majesty. The golden age of Camelot, the perilous search for the Holy Grail, the love of Guinevere and Lancelot, and the treachery of Arthur's son Mordred are all rendered into contemporary prose with Ackroyd's characteristic charm and panache. Just as he did with his fresh new version of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Ackroyd now brings one of the cornerstones of English literature to a whole new audience.
About the Author
Peter Ackroyd is the author of London: The Biography, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, and Shakespeare: The Biography; acclaimed biographies of T.S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More; 13 novels; and the series Ackroyd's Brief Lives. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Award for Literature. He lives in London.