Saturday, 7 March 2009

Witches, puritans and a Romantic poet


Another snapshot of my bookshelves. This group has some connection with the last lot. There were quite a few in the last photo linked to the Salem witch craze as research for Witch Hunt and here are books devoted to English witch trials including the East Anglian witch craze prosecuted by Matthew Hopkins, the odious Witch-Finder General, in the 1640s. I don't know where I first came across Hopkins - probably at school when we did the English Civil War - possibly at college - but he has intrigued me ever since.

There are three books about Puritanism (that were also connected with Witch Hunt) and a few books on Restoration England - though it is a period I have yet to write anything about: Claire Tomalin's book on Pepys, Neil Hanson's A Dreadful Judgement about the Great Fire of London, Liza Picard's excellent Restoration London, two books on Newton (by Patricia Fara and Michael White).

Some books seem to have wandered in from elsewhere: a Lonely Planet guide to Antarctica, The Anglo Saxon Age from OUPs excellent A Very Short Introduction series, a Penguin Classics Hakluyt's Voyages and Discoveries (which is wonderful), Philip Zeigler's gruesomely fascinating The Black Death. Bede's Eccliastical History of the English People seems to have wandered down from the shelf above.

But the best book here by far - though also somewhat out of place - is Shelley: The Pursuit by Richard Holmes. There are few writers I would rather read - fiction or non-fiction - than Richard Holmes and this book is superb. More about him later. . .

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