Monday, September 24, 2007

Great Tales from English History

I picked up a three volume set of Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey a while ago when the Book People had them on sale, since when they have sat on the shelf. I finally picked up the first one last week. Not before time ... these are good! Lacey's love of history was inspired by good old Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall's Our Island Story and Our Empire Story, and he aspires to be a historical storyteller in the same tradition, focusing on the great personalities of English history.

From what I have read so far, he does a good job. The short chapters are vividly written, and he is able to bring characters to life in just a sentence or two. For example, his description of the Emperor Hadrian ... "a patient and thorough man who spent half of his twenty-one year reign systematically travelling the boundaries of his vast Empire, sorting out problems." The books are written for adults, but could be used as an introduction to British history for older children (though be aware he is a little more explicit about certain things than a children's author would be).

One nice snippet from the chapter on the warrior queen, Boadicea (Lacey sticks to the old spelling of the name, rather than the currently popular Boudicca) ...

There [is no] evidence of another great myth, that Boadicea fought her last battle near London and that her body lies where she fell - in the ground on which King's Cross Station was built many years later. Her supposed grave beneath platform ten at King's Cross is the reason why Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express leaves, magically, from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
Who knew? (Well, J.K.Rowling for one, I suppose ...)

1 comment:

Leonie said...

The books look interesting - and love the HP tidbit!