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Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh Hardcover – 4 Oct 2018
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‘What brings the book to brilliant life is Ralegh’s voice. In conversation with his writing, Beer’s prose soars…It’s hard not to think Sir Walter would have approved.’(Guardian)
‘Beer’s book is a rigorous and readable take on her subject – it captures the full scope of the character of Ralegh, one that remains frustrating, but endlessly fascinating.’(The Times)
‘This beautifully written and impeccably researched biography offers a fresh perspective on one of the most colourful and controversial characters of the Tudor and Stuart age. The hero of Elizabeth I and the scourge of her successor, Ralegh is brought to life as never before.’(Tracy Borman, author of The Private Lives of the Tudors)
‘With colourful detail and astute interpretation, esteemed historian Beer follows Ralegh’s dramatic rise and disastrous fall… the full story is well-told here.’(Booklist)
‘Heroic, grasping, gifted, a poet and politician, an explorer, dreamer and schemer – an iconic renaissance man brought vividly to life in this work of maturity, judgement and humanity.’(Sarah Fraser, author of The Prince Who Would Be King)
‘A fascinating investigation of Ralegh – bringing to life this complex, mysterious character, and the beginnings of the Elizabethan Empire in all its brutal reality – showing us the world he travelled and the Queen herself, commanding, frustrating, and unpicks the truth of his shocking and rapid fall from power.’(Kate Williams, author of Rival Queens)
‘A fascinating reappraisal. Beer brings Ralegh to life as a man, as well as providing exceptional detail on the times in which he lived. I highly recommend it.’(Elizabeth Norton, author of The Lives of Tudor Women)
‘Writing with pace and personality, Anna Beer captures Sir Walter Ralegh in all his paradoxical complexity: his bravery and intellectual energy, the man of violence who also wrote passionate poetry, his lust for life competing with a desire for a good death. Sometimes drawn to Ralegh and at other times repelled by him, Anna Beer assays his career with honesty and sharp observation.’(John Cooper, author of The Queen’s Agent)
‘Much of what we think we know about Sir Walter Ralegh – potatoes, tobacco, spreading his cloak over a “plashy place” – is fable. The real story is far more exciting. Here was a man who both achieved and failed extravagantly, who was both hated and loved excessively, and who both lived life and faced death courageously. In this fascinating, eloquent and scholarly new book, Anna Beer reveals the full measure of the man.’(Suzannah Lipscomb, author of The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII)
About the Author
Anna Beer is a cultural historian and one of the leading experts on the life and works of Sir Walter Ralegh. She has written biographies of Milton and Lady Bess Ralegh, and Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music, which is also published by Oneworld. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford.
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Ralegh was born at Hayes, near East Budleigh, Devon. The family were an old established county family. Walter was the product of a third marriage and the youngest of four sons. His birthdate,1554, is not definite. His boyhood is a mystery. He was apparently an avid reader. Later in life he always packed a trunk of books when he sailed on a long voyage. Anna Beer, a cultural historian, has written a new biography on a very colourful character. He was the hero of Elizabeth, the scourge of her successor. She shows how many things about Ralegh are pure fable, for example: potatoes, tobacco, and spreading his cloak over a puddle. The true story is far more exciting. The book is a fascinating reappraisal.
Beer writes with verve and pace about a man who wrote excellent poetry, was brave, violent, and very complex. The book coincides with the 400th anniversary of his execution on 29 October, 1618. On the scaffold he regaled the large crowd with an impromptu 45 speech about his life. Beer has written a rigorous and very readable account about her subject. She demonstrates that Ralegh was a self- promoter. The reader must decide if he was a patriot or a traitor. He popularized tobacco but he didn't bring it back to England.
The book is organised jn two parts: part one examines Ralegh's career as a soldier, courtier, lover, explorer, sailor, writer, rival, coloniser, and his path to execution. Part two looks at gold, sailing, and his last hours. There is an epilogue, a chronology and a short bibliography.