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.
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; thirteen 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.
Selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the "50 Best Nonfiction Books of 2008"!
“The concluding chapters of Thames are extraordinary, perhaps the finest [Ackroyd] has written in a prolific career. The estuary, so he tells us, was the landscape of nightmare to the Anglo-Saxon poets…. The reader feels no doubt that Ackroyd's knowledge of this area is real. The terror-and delight-that he conveys seems entirely authentic.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“In myth, in metaphor and in fact, a river has no beginning and no end, and embarking upon a riverine biography might seem a fool's journey. In Ackroyd's sure hands, it is instead a revelation.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Ackroyd writes so well…we learn about the birds on the river, the animals nearby, the fish that mostly died, then returned, the pleasure gardens and executions, the filth, the music and the art. Riverine structure, lovely and liquid language.”
-Kirkus, starred review
“Acclaimed novelist and biographer Ackroyd invites readers on an eclectic, sprawling and delightful cruise of this important waterway…Elegant and erudite, Ackroyd's gathering of rich treats does the famed tributary proud.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Ackroyd is a distinguished writer of both fiction and nonfiction. The Thames and he make a good pair…[he] views the river from every angle imaginable.”
“Peter Acrkoyd’s writing is such a pleasure that Thames can be read all at once, with increasing delight, and afterwards dipped into, like stretches of the great waterway it charts and celebrates.”
–Financial Times Magazine
"Thames smells authentically of the water…. It is not just the subject that sets this book apart but also the compelling new perspectives that [Ackroyd] brings."
“As soon as you open this account of the Thames, you will want to immerse yourself in it. . . . No one is better than Ackroyd at evoking the texture and atmosphere of the distant past.”
“The pages glint with scintillating nuggets recovered from the river…. You might well think that the garlanded biographer of Dickens and Turner was born to write this extraordinary book.”