Friday, March 25, 2011

Sir Walter Raleigh in Life and Legend

New biography of one of the key figures in British history focusing on both his writing and legacy. Sir Walter Raleigh is a figure writ large in popular imagination. Yet how can we understand this man who was soldier, voyager, visionary, courtier, politician, poet, historian, patriot and 'traitor'? We know some facts, and much can be learned from Raleigh's prose and poetry about his ideas, personality, feelings and values. Important new texts of his works have recently been published: we now possess reliable versions of his poems, his letters and his travel narratives. No biography of Raleigh, however, can be complete without an assessment of his posthumous reputation. Myths that accumulated around him tell us something about the man himself, but far more about the perceptions of his own and subsequent generations. Raleigh's talents as a writer ensured his positive legacy, but the appropriation of his legend for so many differing political uses has left us with a complex picture. In this original and important new biography Williams and Nicholls set this right.

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