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Books By Melvyn Bragg
'The best thing he's ever written . . . I loved it' Observer
Melvyn Bragg's first ever memoir - an elegiac, intimate account of growing up in post-war Cumbria, which lyrically evokes a vanished world.
In this captivating memoir, Melvyn Bragg recalls growing up in the Cumbrian market town of Wigton, from his early childhood during the war to the moment he had to decide between staying on or spreading his wings.
This is the tale of a boy who lived in a pub and expected to leave school at fifteen yet won a scholarship to Oxford. Derailed by a severe breakdown when he was thirteen, he developed a passion for reading and study - though that didn't stop him playing in a skiffle band or falling in love.
It is equally the tale of the people and place that formed him. Bragg indelibly portrays his parents and local characters from pub regulars to vicars, teachers and hardmen, and vividly captures the community-spirited northern town - steeped in the old ways but on the cusp of post-war change. A poignant elegy to a vanished era as well as the glories of the Lake District, it illuminates what made him the writer, broadcaster and champion of the arts he is today.
When we think of great events in the history of the world, we tend to think of war, revolution, political upheaval or natural catastrophe. But throughout history there have been moments of vital importance that have taken place not on the battlefield, or in the palaces of power, or even in the violence of nature, but between the pages of a book.
In our digitised age of instant information it is easy to underestimate the power of the printed word. In his fascinating book, Melvyn Bragg presents a vivid reminder of the book as agent of social, political and personal revolution. 12 Books that Changed the World presents a rich variety of human endeavour and a great diversity of characters. There are also surprises. Here are famous books by Darwin, Newton and Shakespeare - but we also discover the stories behind some less well-known works, such as Marie Stopes' Married Love, the original radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - and even the rules to an obscure ball game that became the most popular sport in the world . . .
'Unsentimental, truthful and wonderful' Independent Books of the Year
When Sam Richardson returns in 1946 from the 'Forgotten War' in Burma to Wigton in Cumbria, he finds the town little changed. But the war has changed him, broadening his horizons as well as leaving him with traumatic memories. In addition, his six-year-old son now barely remembers him, and his wife has gained a sense of independence from her wartime jobs. As all three strive to adjust, the bonds of loyalty and love are stretched to breaking point in this taut, and profoundly moving novel.
'Melvyn Bragg has added another formidable chapter to one of the most distinguished literary series of recent times' David Robson, Sunday Telegraph
It was not love at first sight. It proved to be not much of a conversation...Nothing should have come of it.
A passionate but ultimately tragic love affair starts when two students - one French, one English - meet at university at the beginning of the sixties. From its tentative early stages, the relationship develops into a life-changing one, whose profound impact continues to reverberate forty years later.
Richard Burton: star. The roaring boy from the Welsh coal valleys who came to sport on the banks of the old Nile, playing great Antony to Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra.
From the West End to Hollywood, from Camelot to Shakespeare, he drank, dazzled and despaired, playing out his life on the public stage. But there was another, quieter, off-stage Richard Burton, a face hidden from the multitude.
Melvyn Bragg, allowed free access to the never-before-revealed Burton private notebooks, and with the cooperation of friends who have never spoken about him before, has brought together the private and public sides for the first time. Rich is the complete Richard Burton: a revelation.
English is the collective work of millions of people throughout the ages. It is democratic, ever-changing and ingenious in its assimilation of other cultures. English runs through the heart of world finance, medicine and the Internet, and it is understood by around two thousand million people across the world. Yet it was very nearly wiped out in its early years.
In this book Melvyn Bragg shows us the remarkable story of the English language; from its beginnings as a minor guttural Germanic dialect to its position today as a truly established global language. THE ADVENTURE OF ENGLISH is not only an enthralling story of power, religion and trade, but also the story of people, and how their day-to-day lives shaped and continue to change the extraordinary language that is English.
'Melvyn Bragg's account of the passionate and painful love affair between the 12th century radical theologian, Peter Abelard, and the brilliant young convent-educated Eloise springs magnificently to life . . . Thrilling.' Piers Plowright, Tablet
Within the Cloisters of Notre-Dame, a charismatic philosopher and a young woman renowned for her scholarship embark on an ardent, secret affair. It will send shockwaves through Paris, incur savage retribution and lead to years of separation, though nothing will break the bond between them.
Bringing the true story of Heloise and Abelard to vivid life, this engrossing novel conveys the powerful emotions and beliefs that drove them. It captures a couple who defied the conventions and religious orthodoxies of their times with striking audacity, and illuminates why their extraordinary tale still resonates today.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize
After the upheavals of the Second World War, the Richardson family - Sam, Ellen and their young son Joe - settle back to working-class life in the Cumbrian town of Wigton. Yet for them, as for so many, life will never be the same again. As the old order begins to be challenged and new vistas open, Sam and Ellen forge their future together with differing needs and desires - and conflicting expectations of Joe, who grows up with his own demons to confront.
Melvyn Bragg's highly acclaimed, bestselling historical novel, the story behind one of the 19th century's greatest scandals.
Set in the Lake District at the height of the Romantic age, this is the riveting story of a love affair that led to a nationwide manhunt, captured the public imagination and fascinated both Wordsworth and Coleridge: a story of wealth, title, class and faith - and deception.
It began with the arrival of a stranger in the newly fashionable 'paradise', a man calling himself the Honourable Colonel Alexander Augustus Hope, brother to the Earl of Hopetoun - handsome, charming and evidently open to the prospect of marrying a suitable young lady. Until he met Mary Robinson, the daughter of a local innkeeper renowned far beyond the Lakes as the 'Maid of Buttermere' for her beauty, grace and intelligence, and fell helplessly in love. Their mutual passion seemed at first to surmount all obstacles, but it was to bring unwanted fame and lead to tragedy.
Part One: The History (What do we know?)
This brief historical introduction to William Tyndale explores the social, political and religious factors that formed the original context of his life and writings, and considers how those factors affected the way he was initially received.
What was his impact on the world at the time and what were the key ideas and values connected with him?
Part Two: The Legacy (Why does it matter?)
This second part explores the intellectual and cultural ‘afterlife’ of William Tyndale, and considers the ways in which his impact has lasted and been developed in different contexts by later generations.
Why is he still considered important today? In what ways is his legacy contested or resisted? And what aspects of his legacy are likely to continue to influence the world in the future?
The book has a brief chronology at the front plus a glossary of key terms and a list of further reading at the back.