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Thomas More (1478–1535)

Author of Utopia

199+ Works 15,229 Members 149 Reviews 13 Favorited

About the Author

Born in London, the son of a judge, More became an important statesman and scholar. He was also one of the most eminent humanists of the Renaissance. Educated at Oxford, More became an under-sheriff of London and, later, a member of Parliament. Under King Henry VIII he served as Treasurer of the show more Exchequer, speaker of the House of Commons, and, finally, Lord Chancellor. More is probably best known for his Utopia, which was written in Latin (then the language of literary and intellectual Europe). It was translated into English in 1551. As the first part of this small masterpiece indicates, when More was weighing the offer to be an adviser to Henry VIII he was well aware of the compromises, bitterness, and frustration that such an office involved. In the second part, More develops his famous utopia---a Greek word punning on the meanings "a good place" and "no place"---a religious, communistic society where the common ownership of goods, obligatory work for everyone, and the regular life of all before the eyes of all ensure that one's baser nature will remain under control. Inspired by Plato's (see Vols. 3 and 4) Republic, More's Utopia became in turn the urbane legacy of the humanistic movement (in which More's friends were most notably Erasmus (see Vol. 4), John Colet, and William Grocyn) to succeeding ages. More also wrote a history, Richard III, which, if arguably the first instance of modern historiography in its attention to character and its departure from chronicle, is also, in its responsiveness to the Tudor polemic of divine rights, largely responsible for the notorious reputation of Richard as an evil ruler. More's refusal to recognize Henry VIII as Head of the Church led to a sentence of high treason. Imprisoned for more than a year, he was finally beheaded. Eventually, More was granted sainthood. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Portrait by Hans Holbein, 1527,
Frick Collection, New York
(Yorck Project)

Works by Thomas More

Utopia (1516) 12,013 copies, 117 reviews
Utopia (Norton Critical Editions) (1516) 753 copies, 4 reviews
Utopia: Thomas More (2001) 501 copies, 4 reviews
A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1973) 179 copies, 3 reviews
Utopia and A Dialogue of Comfort (1516) 118 copies, 3 reviews
The Last Letters of Thomas More (2000) 105 copies, 1 review
History of King Richard III (1963) 91 copies, 2 reviews
Utopia and Other Writings (1984) 62 copies
The Essential Thomas More (1967) 61 copies
Three Renaissance Classics (1953) 41 copies, 1 review
Ideal Commonwealths (1885) — Contributor — 40 copies
Vagamundo (1975) — Author — 36 copies, 1 review
Selected letters (1967) 34 copies
More's Utopia and its critics (1964) — Author — 21 copies
La agonía de Cristo (1989) 13 copies, 1 review
Utopia een bloemlezing (2016) 11 copies
Un hombre solo. Cartas desde la torre (1988) 9 copies, 1 review
The Life of Pico (2008) 9 copies, 2 reviews
Epigramas (2012) 4 copies
Ultimas Cartas 1532-1535 (2010) 4 copies
Lettere della prigionia (1963) 3 copies
Utopía - La Nueva Atlántida (2010) — Author — 2 copies
Ütopya (2020) 2 copies
Utopía o El estado feliz (2020) 2 copies
Utopia (1992) 2 copies
Diálogos de Luciano (2022) 2 copies
Utopia 1 copy
Pisma wiezienne (2017) 1 copy
Epistolario 1 copy
UTOPÍA 1 copy
Utopía 1 copy
Lettere (2008) 1 copy
Piensa la muerte (2006) 1 copy
Utopía 1 copy
Carta A Un Monje (2009) 1 copy
Utopia 1 copy
Utopia Annotated (2021) 1 copy
Utopia 1 copy
Utopía 1 copy

Associated Works

World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time (1998) — Contributor — 452 copies, 1 review
The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse: 1509-1659 (1992) — Contributor — 286 copies, 1 review
The Prince; Utopia; Ninety-Five Theses (2004) — Contributor — 280 copies
A Man of Singular Virtue (1980) — Contributor — 183 copies, 2 reviews
The Road to Science Fiction #1: From Gilgamesh to Wells (1977) — Contributor — 154 copies, 1 review
Dystopia Utopia: Short Stories (2016) — Contributor — 133 copies
The Utopia Reader (1999) — Contributor — 113 copies, 1 review


16th century (270) anthology (133) biography (86) British (98) British literature (108) classic (270) classic literature (61) classics (360) dystopia (48) ebook (50) England (92) English (95) English literature (144) fantasy (58) fiction (732) Folio Society (89) history (218) humanism (91) Kindle (58) Latin (52) literature (372) more (54) non-fiction (253) novel (99) philosophy (1,417) poetry (275) political philosophy (158) political science (70) political theory (127) politics (422) read (94) religion (154) Renaissance (240) satire (86) science fiction (87) Thomas More (169) to-read (471) unread (94) utopia (428) utopia/dystopia (51)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
More, Thomas
Other names
MORE, Saint Thomas
MORE, Sir Thomas
MORUS, Tomas
Date of death
Burial location
Royal Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula, Tower of London, London, UK (body)
Roper Vault of St Dunstan's Church, Canterbury, Kent, England, UK (head)
Country (for map)
England, UK
London, England, UK
Place of death
Tower Hill, Stepney, London, England, UK
Cause of death
Places of residence
London, England, UK
Oxford University (1494)
New Inn
Lincoln’s Inn (1502)
St. Anthony's School, London, England, UK
Master of Requests
Under-treasurer of the Exchequer
Speaker of the House of Commons
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (show all 7)
Lord Chancellor
Roper, William (son-in-law)
Lily, William (friend)
Roper, Margaret (daughter)
Awards and honors
Canonized (1935)
Short biography
Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He also served Henry VIII as Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to May 1532. He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary island state.

More opposed the Protestant Reformation, directing polemics against the theology of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and William Tyndale. More also opposed Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and executed. On his execution, he was reported to have said: "I die the King's good servant, and God's first".

Pope Pius XI canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the patron saint of statesmen and politicians. The Soviet Union in the early twentieth century honoured him for the purportedly communist attitude toward property rights in Utopia.



Is government "a conspiracy of the rich"? in Pro and Con (January 2022)
Bibliographie in Zwischen �t�p� und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die gl�b�l�s�rt� Welt (June 2012)


A short classic work on an imagined perfect society. Served as a reading for my Imagined Futures history course, a level 3 undergraduate course I taught at the University of Glasgow. The features of More's Utopia were often rehashed, reconsidered and renovated in subsequent visions of the future.
sfj2 | 116 other reviews | May 18, 2024 |
Story: 2 / 10
Characters: 3
Setting: 6.5
Prose: 8

As with Well's "A Modern Utopia", the book is not so much a story as a pleasant way to introduce an ideal society. Not entirely what I was looking for. Might I suggest Huxley's "Island" as a more relevant alternative?
MXMLLN | 116 other reviews | Jan 12, 2024 |
Prompted by Becky at Becky's Books, I read Thomas More's Utopia because it seemed relevant to a novel I am currently reading. (More about that soon).

'Utopian' is part of our everyday vocabulary now but when Thomas More wrote his book describing an alternative political system of an imaginary island state, it was a risky venture. In 1515 Henry VIII was on the throne, and in that year Wolsey, Archbishop of York was appointed cardinal by Leo X. Henry VIII then appointed him Lord Chancellor, and, as it says in the Introduction of the Project Gutenberg edition I read:
...from that year until 1523 the King and the Cardinal Wolsey ruled England with absolute authority, and called no parliament.

Henry, as we all know, had succession troubles and he didn't need any frisky political opponents making things more complicated. Until his execution in 1535 — Thomas More managed to survive and thrive during his time as a lawyer, judge, and statesman, with deft political nous, which included suppressing Utopia during his life time.

(It was More's opposition to the Protestant Reformation that brought him undone. He refused to swear an oath to please the King, and as you know if you read or saw Robert Bolt's 1954 A Man for All Seasons, Henry's reaction was swift and merciless.)

Utopia was published in Europe, but not in England until 1551 under the reign of Edward VI, in a translation from the Latin by Ralph Robinson. It was generally acknowledged to be less 'literary' than the subsequent translation in 1684 by Gilbert Burnet, who had his own troubles with disagreeable monarchs.
Burnet was drawn to the translation of “Utopia” by the same sense of unreason in high places that caused More to write the book.

Well, even if you simply peruse the summary at Wikipedia, you can see how Utopia still applies in our time. Utopia begins with More doing real-life diplomatic things in Antwerp, but moves to his encounter with the traveller Raphael Hythlodaeus, exploring in some depth the knotty problem of how best to counsel a prince when he is not amenable to wise advice, new ideas or anything that contradicts his world view.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2024/01/03/utopia-1515-by-sir-thomas-more-translated-by...
… (more)
anzlitlovers | 116 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |
There are some good concepts here, but the writing is very stilted and unpleasant, and many of the "solutions" presented just pass the buck of doing unpleasant tasks to other people, rather than creating a society that is equitable and pleasant for everyone. Mostly it left a bad taste in my mouth, thinking that there are people who might actually find the society described here utopic.
stardustwisdom | 116 other reviews | Dec 31, 2023 |



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