The Life of Thomas More.

By Peter Ackroyd

Printed: 1999

Publisher: BCA. London

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt 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.

I have read several biographies of Thomas More, of which this is the most accomplished. Peter Ackroyd situates More in the London of the early sixteenth century and devotes learned and fascinating attention to his career. More, contrary to his portrayal in Wolf Hall, was one of the great figures of the European renaissance. His opposition to Henry VIII was not rooted in religious obsession but in what More saw as the legally inseparable relationship between Church and State. So, rightly or wrongly, he saw what Henry was doing as fatal to the stability of English society. His condemnation of heretics which, on the face of it, seems at odds with his cultured nature, was also rooted in the fact that he saw them as representing a fundamentalist attack on the basis of the social order. All this, Ackroyd explores and analyses with erudition and in a way which makes the book compelling reading.

Review: I don’t read many books, but I read this one from start to finish. Ackroyd builds a picture of More and his world from many documents created at the time More lived. The presentation is usually neutral but detailed and the supporting documents give a sense of reality one seldom gets from history books. I liked the use of old English and Latin because they were original. You can find out exactly what they mean yourself – worthwhile things seldom come easy. I thought Ackroyd was a bit of an apologist for More regarding the Tyndale execution but you can’t expect to agree on everything. Generally Ackroyd had a balanced approach to conflicting opinions and did not argue points too strongly like some stupid high school debate.


The author,Peter Ackroyd, (born 5 October 1949) is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, William Blake, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot and Sir Thomas More, he won the Somerset Maugham Award and two Whitbread Awards. He is noted for the volume of work he has produced, the range of styles therein, his skill at assuming different voices and the depth of his research.

He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003.

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