As the seventeenth century opens, a band of venturers forms the Honourable Company of Merchants trading from England to the East Indies. In France, the siege of La Rochelle ends with the massacre of thirty thousand men, women and children. Almost two centuries later, in 1788, John Lemprière published his classical dictionary. This much is fact. Lawrence Norfolk tells us how the first two events led, inescapably, to the third.
This amazing tale encompasses the Great Voyages of Discovery and multinational financial conspiracies, and leads a motley cast of scholars and eccentrics, drunk aristocrats and whores, assassins and octogenarian pirates through two centuries and three continents to the brink of French Revolution.
John Lemprière reluctantly enters this world as an introverted scholar, obsessed by the myths of antiquity. At the end of this astonishing story he understands that it takes far more than learning to lay the ghosts of the past to rest.
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Historical fiction of mesmerizing complexity... It is a masterpiece - Daily Mail
A love story and a story of fantastic adventure, it is also a hugely comic novel - Sunday Times
A dazzling linguistic and formal achievment -
Poised, superbly inventive and gripping. With Lemprière's Dictionary the precocious author has catapulted himself into the premier league of English fiction writing - Observer
Extravagantly spectacular...myriad wonders and pleasures abound....superbly entertaining - Washington Post
An extraordinary achievment...a remarkable work - Times Literary Supplement
Brilliantly inventive and hugely enjoyable - Spectator
This novel outstrips any I've read - New York Times Book Review
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About the Author
Lawrence Norfolk was born in London in 1963. He read English at King's College, London, graduating in 1986. He began teaching, studied for a Ph.D., and worked as a freelance writer on a number of reference books, contributing articles and reviews to magazines and journals including the Times Literary Supplement. He has written three novels; Lemprière'sDictionary, Pope's Rhinoceros and In the Shape of a Boar.