Robert Runcie. The Reluctant Archbishop.

By Humphrey Carpenter

Printed: 1996

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: Not stated

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with silver title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

A biography of the former Archbishop of Canterbury. It reveals the man behind the office and describes Runcie’s opinions of the Pope, Terry Waite, Margaret Thatcher, and the survival of the monarchy, among other subjects.

Review: This is a fascinating read. Runcie’s character grew progressively from the interview material recorded. It is not a conventional biography and Runcie seems to have been rather disappointed with the result. Certainly not hagiography but a revealing portrait nevertheless.


Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie, Baron Runcie, MC, PC (2 October 1921 – 11 July 2000) was an English Anglican bishop. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1980 to 1991, having previously been Bishop of St Albans. He travelled the world widely to spread ecumenicism and worked to foster relations with both Protestant and Catholic churches across Europe. He was a leader of the Liberal Anglo-Catholicism movement. He came under attack for expressing compassion towards bereaved Argentines after the Falklands War of 1982, and generated controversy by supporting women’s ordination.

Biographer Adrian Hastings argues that Runcie was not a distinguished writer or thinker, but was a good administrator who made shrewd appointments, demanded quality, and recognised good performances.

Humphrey Carpenter began his career working for the BBC and appeared on Radio 3 and 4 many times since. He has written many bestselling, award-winning biographies whose subjects include Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, Ezra Pound, WH Auden, Bejamin Britten, Spike Milligan. He was a prolific author of childrens’ books and a skilled jazz musician. He died in January 2005.

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