Friday, July 9, 2010

Thomas Paine National Historica

The Thomas Paine National Historical Association, founded January 29, 1884 in New York City, is among the oldest historical associations in the United States. Our mission, to educate the world about the life, times and works of Thomas Paine, is designed to ensure Paine's rightful place in history as the preeminent founder of the United States of America. He was, in fact, the first person to coin this phrase. In the course of his lifetime, Paine was an outstanding political and social influence upon the entire world.

Dr. Moncure Conway was elected the Association's first president. A noted writer, abolitionist, and confidant to Abraham Lincoln, Conway is credited with writing the first comprehensive biography of Paine in 1892. In 1925, under the leadership of President William van der Weyde and Vice-President Thomas Alva Edison, the Association undertook the initiative to build a museum to house the priceless documents and artifacts of Paine's life. Since then, the Thomas Paine National Historical Association has been located in New Rochelle, New York on the site of Thomas Paine's farm and shared by the Museum, Thomas Paine Cottage, and Thomas Paine Monument. In addition to the acquisition, preservation, and conservation of documents and artifacts relating to Thomas Paine, the Association offers educational programs, public speakers, presentations, and special events that illuminate Paine's political and social philosophy and demonstrate its relevance to the issues of the day.

"London has always provided the landscape for my imagination. It becomes a character - a living being - within each of my books."


London, England


Clare College, Cambridge; Yale University, US

Other jobs

Critic and journalist

Did you know?

One of his lesser-known early works is Dressing Up, a history of drag and transvestism.

Critical verdict

Ackroyd began his literary career as a poet before moving into fiction, and has also written imaginatively convincing biographies of TS Eliot, Dickens, Blake and Thomas More. He excels in the dual narrative - two voices separated by centuries - and has consistently focused on London, its change and its continuity, as his subject and structure. Combining accessibility with scholarship and extensive research, his work has blurred the boundaries between biography and fiction and been critically and commercially successful.

Recommended works

Hawksmoor; Chatterton (shortlisted for the Booker Prize); his compelling Blake biography; the inexhaustible London: The Biography.


Ackroyd follows in the tradition of the great chroniclers of London, Wiliam Blake and Charles Dickens.

Now read on

Perfume by Patrick Süskind echoes Ackroyd's sensory reimagining of the past; The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles adopts the history-spanning dual narrative. Michael Moorcock's Mother London focuses on the capital as a locus of history, while Iain Sinclair also searches out London's dark past.

Recommended biography

Iain Sinclair remarked that Ackroyd's grandly ambitious London: The Biography "very rapidly announces itself as Peter Ackroyd: The Autobiography".


Metafiction and Myth in the Novels of Peter Ackroyd (1999) by Susana Onega is the first full-length study of Ackroyd's 'historiographic metafiction'.

Useful links and work online

Online work
· Excerpt: The Life of Thomas More
· Excerpt: Milton in America