------ Adam THORPE
Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. His first collection of poetry, Mornings in the Baltic (1988), was shortlisted for the 1988 Whitbread Poetry Award. His other books of poetry are Meeting Montaigne (1990) and From the Neanderthal (1999). He was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 1985. His most recent collection is Nine Lessons From the Dark (2003).
Thorpe's first novel, Ulverton (1992), a panoramic portrait of English rural history, was published to great critical acclaim and prompted novelist John Fowles, reviewing the book in The Guardian (28 May 1992), to call it 'the most interesting first novel I have read these last years'. The book consists of 12 loosely-connected narrative episodes tracing 350 years in the history of a rural village and its inhabitants, employing various narrative forms from dense prose written in thick dialect to modern film script. The book won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in 1992.
His second novel, Still (1995), follows film director Ricky Thornby's ambitious plans to make an all-encompassing film about the twentieth century. Pieces of Light (1998) describes a young boy's childhood in West Africa and the mystery that develops when he is sent to live with an eccentric uncle in the English countryside on the eve of the Second World War. Shifts (2000), a collection of short stories, explores interconnected themes of work and labour. Nineteen Twenty-One (2001), set in that year, focuses on a young man intent on writing a novel about the First World War. No Telling (2003), is set in 1968 and is narrated by a 12-year-old boy on the verge of First Communion and puberty, living amid a deeply dysfunctional family in a turbulent France, culminating in the 1968 Paris riots. His novel The Rules of Perspective (2005), is set at the end of the Second World War in a German museum.
He is also the author of five plays for BBC Radio, including The Fen Story (1991), Offa's Daughter (1993) and An Envied Place (2002), as well as a stage play, Couch Grass and Ribbon, first performed in 1996.
Hodd (2009) Who was Robin Hood? Romantic legend casts him as outlaw, archer, and hero of the people, living in Sherwood Forest with Friar Tuck, Little John and Maid Marian, stealing from the rich to give to the poor - but there is no historical proof to back this up. The early ballads portray a quite different figure: impulsive, violent, vengeful, with no concern for the needy, no merry band, and no Maid Marian. "Hodd" provides a possible answer to this famous question, in the form of a medieval document rescued from a ruined church on the Somme, and translated from the original Latin. The testimony of an anonymous monk, it describes his time as a boy in the greenwood with a half-crazed bandit called Robert Hodd - who, following the thirteenth-century principles of the 'heresy of the Free Spirit', believes himself above God and beyond sin. Hodd and his crimes would have been forgotten without the boy's minstrel skills, and it is the old monk's cruel fate to know that not only has he given himself up to apostasy and shame, but that his ballads were responsible for turning a murderous felon into the most popular outlaw hero and folk legend of England, Robin Hood. Written with his characteristic depth and subtlety, his sure understanding of folklore, his precise command of detail, Adam Thorpe's ninth novel is both a thrilling re-examination of myth and a moving reminder of how human innocence and frailty fix and harden into history.
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