Ian Mortimer


 

The Fears of Henry IV
Reviews

'Ian Mortimer achieves the enviable feat of maintaining scholarly standards while writing for the most general of publics.' (Professor Nicholas Vincent, Times Literary Supplement, 13 February 2008).

'[Mortimer] is a narrative historian of exceptional gifts. His fair-minded and ambitiously conceived account will win deserved favour with intelligent general readers.' (Professor Paul Strohm, BBC History, September 2007).

'Mortimer goes a long way to bridging the gap between popular and academic historical biography... Mortimer has amply demonstrated his ambition as a historian. His book offers a wealth of challenging new insights into this fascinating but enigmatic ruler.' (Professor Nigel Saul, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 3 August 2007).

'Although Henry's life and personality offer what K. B. McFarlane described as "a series of fascinating problems, mostly unsolved", [historians] have been chary taking up this challenege. Ian Mortimer's The Fears of Henry iV fills an important gap, and if it does not solve all the problems it certainly tackles most of them.' (Professor Maurice Keen, The London Review of Books, 5 June 2008).

'He has made fuller and more effective use than any other historian of the unpublished material in the records of the Duchy of Lancaster. He has an instinctive sympathy for the men about whom he writes, a real understanding of the mentalities of late medieval England, and a vivid historical imagination which lends colour and excitement to his pages... McFarlane observed in his lectures that if Shakespeare had focused on the personality of Henry IV, he would have come up with a more complex Macbeth. Mortimer has avowedly set out to write about the more complex Macbeth that Shakespeare never gave us.' (Jonathan Sumption, The Literary Review, July 2007).

'Arresting and original... His knowledge of the period, judicious interpretation of the sources and comprehensive notes lend substance to his style. The result is a stimulating book written with dramatic flair and infectious passion.' (Jessie Childs, The Sunday Telegraph, 8 July 2007).

'Mortimer's text possesses the rare combination of clarity, liveliness, balanced judgment, erudition without pedantry, and scholarship founded on his own research among primary sources.' (Iain Sproat, Scotland on Sunday, 15 July 2007).

'A full and richly detailed life... a fine biography' (Robert Stewart, The Spectator, 21 July 2007).

'Conventional wisdom claims that a 'proper' biography of someone from the medieval era is an impossibility. Too little evidence survives of the kind required to reconstruct a personality. In his remarkable life of England's first Lancastrian King, Mortimer proves that wisdom wrong. Through subtle and imaginative use of primary sources... he has created not only a compelling narrative of a significant period in English history but also a convincing portrait of a complex and contradictory man.' (Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times, 22 July 2007).

'Mortimer gives us a colourfully human picture of Henry... [He] is measured and scholarly in his judgments... He writes with involvement and narrative drive... [An] engrossing, elegant book.' (Christina Hardyment, The Independent, 27 July 2007).

'Mortimer argues effectively for an appreciation of a complex man... He writes with considerable verve and skill, unlocking numerous fascinating historical details from a thorough study of Henry's surviving account books... The historian will welcome Mortimer's trilogy of biographies, the general reader will appreciate this one in particular, as will any student of Sheakespeare.' (Graham Nelson, The Book Magazine July 2007).

'Forensically detailed' (Dominic Sandbrook, The Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2007).

'Mortimer's book is a success and tells an important story very well.' (Richard Francis, The Daily Telegraph, 7 July 2007).

Last updated 14 February 2008