A time of exceptional creativity, wealth creation, and political expansion, the Elizabethan age was also more remarkable than any other for the Technicolor personalities of its leading participants. Apart from the complex character of the Virgin Queen herself, A. N. Wilson's The Elizabethans follows the stories of Francis Drake, a privateer who not only defeated the Spanish Armada but also circumnavigated the globe with a drunken, mutinous crew and without reliable navigational instruments; political intriguers like William Cecil and Francis Walsingham; and Renaissance literary geniuses from Sir Philip Sidney to Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Most crucially, this was the age when modern Britain was born and established independence from mainland Europe—both in its resistance to Spanish and French incursions and in its declaration of religious liberty from the pope—and laid the foundations for the explosion of British imperial power and eventual American domination. An acknowledged master of the all-encompassing single-volume history, Wilson tells the exhilarating story of the Elizabethan era with all the panoramic sweep of his bestselling The Victorians, and with the wit and iconoclasm that are his trademarks.
For William Butler Yeats, Dante Alighieri was "the chief imagination of Christendom." For T. S. Eliot, he was of supreme importance, both as poet and philosopher. Coleridge championed his introduction to an English readership. Tennyson based his poem "Ulysses" on lines from the Inferno. Byron chastised an "Ungrateful Florence" for exiling…
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