Friday, July 9, 2010
Clare College, Cambridge; Yale University, US
Critic and journalist
Did you know?
One of his lesser-known early works is Dressing Up, a history of drag and transvestism.
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.
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.
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
· Excerpt: The Life of Thomas More
· Excerpt: Milton in America