- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: OUP Oxford (22 Feb. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199273715
- ISBN-13: 978-0199273713
- Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.8 x 13 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,378,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story Hardcover – 22 Feb 2007
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A valuable contribution to the micro-histories of the early modern world. There is much for general readers to enjoy and scholars to admire...the details is so skilfully handled as to be unerringly involving and illuminating. (Malcolm Gaskell, TLS)
Peter Marshall... is a beautiful writer and his book is a shining example of how narrative history can be used to illustrate a complicated subject such as 17th century religious belief...a remarkable piece of detective work. (John Coulter, Tribune)
Marshall brings a formidable hinterland of learning to these stories, but he wears this lightly... A thought-provoking and enjoyable read. (Jeremy Gregory, Church Times)
More sheer entertainment value than any other history book you'll ever read...If you have the slightest inclination to find history interesting, you really can't help but love Peter Marshall's book. (Lucy Wooding, Literary Review)
Shrewdly calibrated, abundantly entertaining. (Jonathan Keates, Spectator)
Marshall's way with witty modern parallels is just one of the delights of this book. (Jonathan Sale, The Independent)
[A] beautifully intelligent book...It is an ugly story, of course, but Marshall's way of telling it makes it irresistible. (John Carey, Sunday Times (Culture))
Interesting, absorbing and written in an engaging style. (Fortean Times)
Marshall's splendidly written book is a model of how history should be written and practiced (William Gibson, Archives)
About the Author
Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, with a particular interest in the study of religious belief and practice in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England and the cultural impact of the English Reformation. He has published widely in the field, including a survey of the period, Reformation England 1480-1642, and The Catholic Priesthood and the English Reformation, also published by Oxford University Press.
Top Customer Reviews
Harsh words I know. Maybe one has to be a very passionate lover of the seventeenth century to like this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Mother Leakey's ghost wanted to get a message to the bishop. The investigation by the eminent personages appointed by the privy council was probably caused by suspicion on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury that this was some subversion against his bishop, possibly blackmailing because of a past charge of incest. The bishop had made enemies in Ireland, but the blackmail, if any, didn't make a difference. Mother Leakey's hauntings may have put more of a spotlight on him, but what made a difference was that he was charged with sodomy, and he was hanged in 1640. The bishop's literal ghost did not itself come to haunt those left behind, but it did so figuratively, starting with a book reporting his penitence, which was advertised seventy years later with a new charge of sexual congress with a cow. Whatever his flaws (he certainly had some), and whatever the truth of the case, the bishop is featured in some current writings and websites as a homosexual martyr. Mother Leakey has shown up in literature; Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem about her. She has not ceased her effects on her section of the world. Not long ago she had a tearoom at quayside in Minehead, Mother Leakey's Tearoom, but the name has now changed. She is, however, still credited with causing bad weather in the region ("It looks like Mother Leakey's up to her old tricks again," said an old sailor).
Marshall's entertaining and witty book is at its best in presenting the conceptions of ghosts from Mother Leakey's time to our own. Making storms, for instance, is something witches were more likely to do than ghosts, and Mother Leakey has entered the literature here and there as a witch. Ghosts could be part of Catholic beliefs before the Reformation, because a dead person, if forgiven, was spending time in purgatory before heaven, and might come visit the family before making a permanent celestial home. Indeed, after the Reformation, Protestants, who believed that if you were going to heaven, you made no sojourn through purgatory, taught that friars and monks had staged hauntings merely to reinforce beliefs in purgatory (and to get money), but the Leakeys were not Catholics. If there were no purgatory, souls in hell could not get out to haunt, and souls in heaven would not want to, so what were these ghosts? Why, angels and demons sent from one place or the other; it was hard to ascertain from which place, as Hamlet would tell you. Mother Leakey conformed to the behavior of ghosts of her time, coming back shortly after her death to people that remembered her; the family would not have as easily believed in ghosts of the distant past as we know them: "ghosts of the modern heritage industry are the ancient fixtures of the stately homes circuit". Looking back on the traces Marshall could find of the many questions he brings up "has at times been an exercise in the sheer and uncooperative difficulty of history, an exposure to the blank impenetrability of the past." But Mother Leakey and the bishop are historic figures, mutated by subsequent generations to serve different purposes, and this is a wonderful story of the stories of history.
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