The Origins of the English Imagination
By Peter Ackroyd
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385497732, 560pp.)
Publication Date: November 9, 2004
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With his characteristic enthusiasm and erudition, Peter Ackroyd follows his acclaimed London: A Biography with an inspired look into the heart and the history of the English imagination. To tell the story of its evolution, Ackroyd ranges across literature and painting, philosophy and science, architecture and music, from Anglo-Saxon times to the twentieth-century. Considering what is most English about artists as diverse as Chaucer, William Hogarth, Benjamin Britten and Viriginia Woolf, Ackroyd identifies a host of sometimes contradictory elements: pragmatism and whimsy, blood and gore, a passion for the past, a delight in eccentricity, and much more. A brilliant, engaging and often surprising narrative, Albion reveals the manifold nature of English genius.
Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake, and Thomas More, and of the bestselling London: The Biography. 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.
“An ingenious essay in cultural anthropology.”--The New York Times Book Review
“Beguiling. . . . A hugely readable book. . . . Pick it up whenever you need, open it wherever you like, read as much as you want with profit and pleasure.”--The Wall Street Journal
"This work could have been produced only by the liveliest of intellects, drawing on an astonishing depth of experience. Ackroyd in his own writing demonstrates the quality of the English imagination." --The Spectator
"As ever, where Ackroyd excels is in the patient accumulation of suggestive detail or sudden descent unto a distinctive corner of the English world." --The Independent