My article in July issue of History Today

I have a brief piece in this month's History Today on the subject of Sir Walter Ralegh's reputation in the 20th century. It is part of the magazine's regular 'From the Archives' feature, and is a response to an excellent 1998 essay by Robert Lawson-Peebles titled 'The Many Faces of Sir Walter Ralegh', which traced … Continue reading My article in July issue of History Today

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Richard Topcliffe: the Queen’s torturer

There is no known portrait of Richard Topcliffe, the man most associated with the torture and persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England. In some respects that is as it should be: those who break human bodies on behalf of the state are usually anonymous, ordinary figures, extraordinary only in the apparent disjunction between their personal … Continue reading Richard Topcliffe: the Queen’s torturer

Richard Topcliffe and the capture and torture of Robert Southwell

The capture and torture of Southwell is a perfect example of Topcliffe’s full-service approach to persecution: it was his own handiwork through and through, and took extensive planning and thought. Southwell, a Norfolk man, had left England for the Catholic English College at Douai in the summer of 1576. He was not yet 15. Two … Continue reading Richard Topcliffe and the capture and torture of Robert Southwell

Review: The Hollow Crown: Henry V

I was privileged to be invited to a screening at the British Museum on Friday night of the new BBC film version of Henry V, the fourth part of its Hollow Crown tetralogy, which also includes Richard II and Henry IV parts I and II. The season is a BBC co-production with Sam Mendes’ Neal … Continue reading Review: The Hollow Crown: Henry V

Out now in paperback: The Favourite

The Favourite, my book about the relationship between Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Ralegh, is now out in paperback through Constable. The new edition includes a lengthy afterword taking the story through to the end of Ralegh's life in 1618. 'The Favourite is wonderful. Elegant and intriguing – a seductive portrait of a fascinating relationship. I couldn’t … Continue reading Out now in paperback: The Favourite

Ben Jonson: his early life and how it shaped him

Contrary as always, Ben Jonson could cast horoscopes – but didn’t believe in them. What, then, would he have made of his own? In some ways, perhaps, he was born lucky: winter offered the worst chances of survival for an Elizabethan baby; Jonson was born in midsummer. Even so, he was fortunate to survive. One … Continue reading Ben Jonson: his early life and how it shaped him

My post on Kipling and his critics for Normblog

As mentioned last week, Norman Geras was kind enough not only to invite me to contribute to the Writer's Choice feature on his website, but also to allow me to split my contribution over two weeks. My first piece, on Rudyard Kipling and The Jungle Book, can be read here. The second piece, posted today … Continue reading My post on Kipling and his critics for Normblog