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That Great Lucifer: A Portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh (1960)

by Margaret Irwin

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No lover of history can fail to recognize in the man who cast his cape gracefully across a puddle to protect the feet of his queen, the symbol of the Elizabethan Age. For Sir Walther Ralegh was more, much more than the courtier portrayed in the painting. He was truly the Elizabethan incarnate - soldier, sailor, captain of the Queen's guard, explorer and colonizer of the New World, poet, scientist, military engineer and literary patron. In an age both cruel and romantic, the figure of Sir Walter Ralegh stands high above the contemporaries who eventually cast him down. He it was who devised the plan that brought about the destruction of the Armada, who sailed into Cadiz harbor to grapple with Philip of Spain's war fleet and who, before he laid his head on the block, called to the headsman to let him feel the edge of the axe. Margaret Irwin was a noted authority on the Elizabethan Age. In this biography she brings all her skills as a historian and novelist in telling the story of this most remarkable Englishman.… (more)
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It is surely a sign of the current great interest in all things Tudor that this book has been republished in 2008. Mine is the original first edition in 1960 in lovely condition with dust jacket intact and I only found out when I entered it that it had been newly published. I have read several other books on Sir Raleigh (his wife was the real hero) and will add a review as soon as I have read it. This was one of my great finds. I paid a whole 2 dollars for it and noted that even in 1960 it was $5.50. It was a joint publication with Chatto & Windus in England and Clarke Irwin in Canada.
  bhowell | Apr 28, 2008 |
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No lover of history can fail to recognize in the man who cast his cape gracefully across a puddle to protect the feet of his queen, the symbol of the Elizabethan Age. For Sir Walther Ralegh was more, much more than the courtier portrayed in the painting. He was truly the Elizabethan incarnate - soldier, sailor, captain of the Queen's guard, explorer and colonizer of the New World, poet, scientist, military engineer and literary patron. In an age both cruel and romantic, the figure of Sir Walter Ralegh stands high above the contemporaries who eventually cast him down. He it was who devised the plan that brought about the destruction of the Armada, who sailed into Cadiz harbor to grapple with Philip of Spain's war fleet and who, before he laid his head on the block, called to the headsman to let him feel the edge of the axe. Margaret Irwin was a noted authority on the Elizabethan Age. In this biography she brings all her skills as a historian and novelist in telling the story of this most remarkable Englishman.

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