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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb
One of the best biographies i have ever read. Beautifully written and fascinating even for someone like me who had little previous interest in either architecture or the nineteenth century.
Published on 16 Sep 2008 by PBL

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26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong format
I believe that this book's main fault is that it is in the wrong format i.e. a paper back with too many words and not enough photgraphs.

As a previous reviewer has stated Pugin's personal life was rather uneventful (except for his final descent into insanity) and certainly not interesting enough to fill a 500 page biography. Also I found the long accounts of...
Published on 8 Feb 2009 by E. Carter


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb, 16 Sep 2008
By 
PBL (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
One of the best biographies i have ever read. Beautifully written and fascinating even for someone like me who had little previous interest in either architecture or the nineteenth century.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pre-eminent Victorian, 21 May 2009
By 
M. J. Corbett "Sardanapalus" (Alicante, Spain) - See all my reviews
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Rosemary Hill's masterly life of Augustus Pugin is quite the best biography I have read for many years. Pugin was not high on my list of eminent Victorians. Thanks to her, he is now. An extraordinary creature, prodigious, amazingly precocious, wilful, cantankerous and quirky to an extreme; a figure that certainly belies the canard that men of his time were frock-coated and bewhiskered prigs.
Hill is most persuasive in her argument that Pugin was the seminal figures in the Gothic Revival and she brings to her task wide historical leaning and broad cultural interest, all presented with an easy elegance not always found in works so immaculate in scholarship and documentation. In the publishing bonanza of recent years, lucidity and precision so often is lost in the rush to get the latest volume into the current lists. Her book, in this, as in all other respects, is exceptional.
I have only one grouse, and a trifling one at that: the book needed more copious illustration. It is a comment upon the enthusiasm which Hill provokes that I longed to behold each rood screen, choir stall and chasuble she describes in something other than my mind's eye. Of course, such a book would be well beyond my and many another reader's pocket. We will have to be content with the finely chosen illustrations which economy has allowed us
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN WHO DESIGNED BIG BEN, 26 Aug 2007
By 
Dr. S. J. Wyatt (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a superb biography. If you're interested in the history of English architecture and interior design then this book is unmissable. But Hill's vivid and rich portrait of a complex and driven man, whose ideas were highly influential but whose projects were often blighted, deserves to be read by a much wider readership. Witty, wise, often moving and always informative, GOD'S ARCHITECT is a great read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Pugin, 15 Sep 2009
By 
Mr. David N. Palmer (Old Portsmouth) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
An excellent biography - Rosemary Hill really brings Pugin alive as if he were a contemporary. I haven't been able to put this book down since I first opened it.

David Palmer
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly biography which is also an absorbing tale, 31 Jan 2012
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This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churches have never turned my head - they will now, 31 Aug 2012
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This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
An extraordinarily enlightening and precious biography because it not only lets you in to Pugin's mind, life and works, but it also paints such a complete and fascinating picture of early nineteenth century life during his time. We learn of the trials and tribulations that a talented Pugin went through to get any form of recognition, how hard he had worked all his short life to the cost of his family and himself, and especially how he had to contend with the ups and (more often) downs. We learn of the Catholic struggle to finally become re-accepted in English society and efforts to take advantage over the Protestants when they could; it could all have ended so differently. This was a privilege to read. If I ever have to clear my bookshelves, this one will stay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb account of a brief but spectacular life, 27 Feb 2012
This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
What Rosemary Hill achieves in this book is remarkable. Pugin fitted more into 40 years than most people could achieve in double that time. He lived through a time of rapid change, and to a degree helped shape that change. The Victorian civic architecture of the 2nd half of the 19th Century is in no small part due to Pugin's influence.

Hill makes an excellent job of helping us to understand the factors that formed Pugin the man. Shaped by his influences Pugin soon forged his own course. His religion and his work going hand in hand. This is no hagiography. Hill shows that Pugin was not always a sympathetic character, and his treatment of Mary Amherst after the break-up of their affair was harsh and unpleasant to say the least. Yet through it all we see a man who inspired incredible devotion from his friends. A genius, flawed perhaps, but nontheless a genius whose early death was an incalculable loss.

Others came after Pugin. Arguably others implemented his vision better than Pugin himself. We shall never know what the mature Pugin might have given us. We are left with many flashes of genius and hints of what could have come next. The strength of Rosemary Hill's book is that it leaves us wanting more, and the pangs of regret that come with knowing that there is no more.

I loved reading about Pugin, and through this book I learned to appreciate his work and the broader worlds of 19th architecture, politics and religion. Kudos to Rosemary Hill!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A love-hate relationship with both Pugin and the book., 23 Feb 2009
By 
Clare Topping (Northamptonshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain

This is clearly a well researched and competently written book. The author is obviously interested in her subject and is trying to present the whole of Pugin and his career without putting too much emphasis on his participation in the design of the Houses of Parliament.

At times, the book is heavy going, as one other reviewer pointed out, there is a lot written about his religious beliefs. That said, it may just be that from a twenty first century perspective, it is difficult to appreciate how important religion was to much of the population in the early Victorian age.

This is definitely not a book that you can dip in and out of and I found that I got more from it when I read larger chunks at a time, allowing me to get to know the bit part players. When I read small sections I found it difficult to keep up with the different protagonists and whether they were Catholic, Protestant or undecided (although I found I sometimes didn't care any more).

For such a long biography, there is little about his family. Once his parents and aunt have died, others get little page space, although friends and acquaintances feature a little more. My main criticism however, is the lack of photos. This is a biography about a man whose ideals were supposed to be reflected in his architecture and interior designs, yet for such a prolific workaholic there are too few pictures of either the finished article or the many designs not realised.

On a similar point I found a lot of the architectural terms confusing. Not knowing anything about architecture prior to reading this book, I would have liked a little more explanation of perpendicular and decorative styles, naves and chancels etc, not to mention rood screens which either the author or Pugin (or both) seemed a little obsessed with.

On the plus side, having read this book I feel I know much more about the man and the early Victorian period. I have been motivated to find out more about architecture and have started looking at churches in a different light. I was undecided whether to give it three or four stars, but overall found it an enjoyable read about a subject not often tackled. It would definitely have rated five stars if there were more pictures and a little more architectural explanation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 26 Feb 2014
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Purchased as a present and well liked and thoroughly read. A good historical book for design and the man behind the gothic designs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable biography, 23 July 2013
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Having seen Rosemary Hill on a TV documentary about Pugin, I wanted to explore more thoroughly the career of this troubled and passionate man. The biography satisfies this interest beyond all expectations. It is not necessary to be a devotee of Victorian church politics and architecture to be riveted by Hill's account of Pugin's life and aspirations.
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God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain
God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill (Paperback - 7 Aug 2008)
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