Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Daughter's Love by John Guy

If it hadn't been for his eldest daughter Margaret, Sir Thomas More - author of Utopia, uncompromising lord chancellor, and Catholic saint - would have been "just another footnote in history", claims John Guy in this gripping double biography. It was Margaret who published More's collected works; she even rescued his boiled and tarred head (and was buried with it when she died in 1544). When More was imprisoned in the Tower prior to his execution, Margaret was his main channel of communication with the outside world. Guy shows how she comforted More in those dark times, and their clandestine correspondence is moving, some of More's letters written "with a coal". Guy maintains that More's fictionalised dialogue with his daughter - composed while he was in the Tower - was in fact a collaborative effort. After all, the Margaret Roper presented here is a courageous, highly intelligent, enterprising and accomplished scholar, despite her proud father's uneasiness about - and sometimes zealous opposition to - the idea of a woman putting pen to paper

1 comment:

ally said...

I think that not only did she rescue him from being a footnote in history, but she also rescued his reputation from Foxe's Book of Martyrs and some of the more inflated claims of torture.

I like to think that history would have found More anyway, but few people acknowledge the debt that all educated people hold to Erasmus, and his current claim to fame is just his friendship with More, when really, they should both be among the people we are assigned to read about in school.