When I ordered this book I am ashamed to admit that I had only the sketchiest knowledge of Pugin - I had vague ideas about his involvement in the design of the Houses of Parliament and Victorian churches, and his association with the Oxford Movement, and imagined him in my ignorance to be some sort of consumptive intellectual. Of course, I know now that I was hopelessly wrong in my woolly assumptions! But I wanted to fill in this gap in my knowledge, and this book not only told me everything that I could want to know about Pugin and his life and career, but what is even better, made an entertaining and absorbing story of it. I really could not put the book down - I read far too late into the night several times, which is not what you would necessarily expect of a biography of an eminent Victorian, especially one who was an architect and designer. I learned that not only was Pugin a most fascinating individual, a complete maverick, and unconventional in so many ways - a real character - but also quite amazingly talented, often misunderstood, and a man who in a lot of ways led quite a sad, although pretty eventful, life. Rosemary Hill skilfully tells the tale of his personal life and relationships as well that of his professional one - they are really quite inextricable - and also puts his work in the context of what was happening in the world of design and architecture around him. His is the story of a genius manqué which really should be better known as he had such a huge and continuing influence, often unacknowledged, on his contemporaries and those who came after him.
I can highly recommend this book, and not just to those who are knowledgeable and interested in architecture and design. I certainly didn't think I was interested in the former before I read this book, but reading Pugin's story has quite changed my mind.