Ackroyd, Peter

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ackroyd, Peter

Peter Ackroyd, 1949–, British author, b. London; studied Clare College, Cambridge (M.A., 1971) and Yale. A literary journalist, he wrote for the Spectator (1973–82) and has reviewed books for the London Times since 1986. His early work includes three volumes of poetry (1973, 1978, 1987), a polemic on literary modernism (1976), and a study of transvestism (1979). His first novel, The Great Fire of London (1982), was followed by The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (1983), Hawksmoor (1985), Chatterton (1987), English Music (1992), Milton in America (1997), The Plato Papers (2000), The Clerkenwell Tales (2004), The Fall of Troy (2007), and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein (2009). Typically novels of ideas that reflect an enormous range of intellectual interest and inquiry and that defy traditional realism, his fiction frequently deals with the active interplay between the past and the present and often uses the city of London as both locale and thematic touchstone. English literary figures and murder make frequent appearances in these works. Ackroyd also is a perceptive biographer whose subjects include Ezra Pound (1980, rev. ed. 1987), T. S. Eliot (1984), Charles Dickens (1990), William Blake (1995), Thomas More (1998), and J. M. W. Turner (2002). In addition, he has written a "biography" of London (2000), a study of the English literary and artistic imagination, Albion (2003), a historical cruise on the Thames (2008), and prose retellings of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (2009) and Malory's Morte d'Arthur (2010). His Foundation (2012), Tudors (2013), and Rebellion (2014) are part of a series on the history of England. Many of Ackroyd's literary critical essays are reprinted in The Collection (2001).

See studies by S. Onega (1999) and J. S. W. Gibson (2000).

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