The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors

The History of England (Volume 1 of 6)

Peter Ackroyd

Thomas Dunne Books

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Peter Ackroyd, whose work has always been underpinned by a profound interest in and understanding of England’s history, now tells the epic story of England itself.

In Foundation, the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England’s prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country’s most distant past—and Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a Saxon tomb, a medieval manor house—and describes in rich prose the successive waves of invaders who made England English, despite being themselves Roman, Viking, Saxon, or Norman French.

With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place and his acute eye for the telling detail, Ackroyd recounts the story of warring kings, of civil strife, and foreign wars. But he also gives us a vivid sense of how England’s early people lived: the homes they built, the clothes the wore, the food they ate, even the jokes they told. All are brought vividly to life through the narrative mastery of one of Britain’s finest writers.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter 16: Crime and punishment

A ‘scotale’ or drinking party took place at Ashley, near Cirencester, on 7 September 1208; it was in honour of the birthday of Our Lady, and the local officer of the forest sold drinks at his alehouse to celebrate the occasion. It was essentially a form of local tax, because the inhabitants felt obliged to attend in fear of incurring his displeasure. John Scot was riding back from the alehouse when he invited Richard of Crudwell to sit behind him on his horse. Richard thought that he was offering him a lift, but John took up a knife and stabbed

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Praise for Foundation

Praise for Foundation:

“Ackroyd has drawn a large, loyal readership in his native land. Over some 50 books, he has seldom strayed far from the subject of the past and the traces it has left in the present. And the history that interests him most is the kind touching on national memory and a sense of place, ‘longing and belonging,’ in his memorable phrase.”

The New York Times Book Review

"Ackroyd's trademark insight and wit, and the glorious interconnectedness of all things, permeate each page."

Observer (UK)

"Ackroyd brings delightful but revealing details of the lives of the people from the past into the present."

Sunday Express (UK)

"With Foundation, Ackroyd makes a compelling case to be the country's next great chronicler."

Time Out (London)

“Given his eye for detail and the near-mythic writing in books like Thames: Sacred River, [Foundation]not surprisingly, a huge best seller in England—promises to be an original read.”

Library Journal

“The hugely popular Ackroyd’s ease of erudition ought not to be missed.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Once again, Ackroyd exhibits his magic touch with the written word, this time with the first in a six-volume history of England.”

Kirkus Reviews

"An extraordinary book...Peter Ackroyd is arguably the most talented and prolific writer working in Britain today."

Daily Express (UK)

“Ackroyd paints a portrait of early England that is both historically rich and compellingly human.”

Shelf Awareness

“[Ackroyd] is a natural storyteller and a passionate historian, but his true skill lies in his acute eye for revealing interesting details.”

San Francisco Book Review

Praise for Peter Ackroyd:

"Marvelously erudite and staggeringly industrious."

Los Angeles Times

"For Ackroyd, the past isn't merely past; it's alive."

The Boston Globe

"Ackroyd is a medium through which the obscured voices of the past are channeled."


"His best work is in his marvelous cultual visions...because they convey a comprehensive and frequently dark sense of the English character and its vagaries."

—Harold Bloom, The New York Times Book Review

In the Press

‘Foundation,’ by Peter Ackroyd -
Peter Ackroyd looks at England’s long, tumultuous formative period.
- The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Peter Ackroyd

PETER ACKROYD is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet, and historian. He is the author of the acclaimed Thames: Sacred River and London: The Biography. He holds a CBE for services to literature and lives in London.

Peter Ackroyd


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Available Formats and Book Details

The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors
Peter Ackroyd


St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
October 2012
ISBN: 9781250003614
ISBN10: 125000361X
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 496 pages, Plus three 8-page color photo inserts

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books
September 2013
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250037558
ISBN10: 1250037557
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 496 pages, Plus three 6-page color photograph inserts

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
October 2012
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781250013675
ISBN10: 1250013674
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 496 pages, 3 color 8-page inserts

From The Publisher

Thomas Dunne Books

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