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BIC Excellence Award

A.L. Rowse And Cornwall
Paradoxical Patriot

By Philip Payton

A.L. Rowse And Cornwall
Hardback, 336 pages £75.00
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9780859897440
Format: 234mm x 156mm
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Paperback, 336 pages £18.00
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9780859897983
Format: 234mm x 156mm
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PDF, 336 pages £18.00
Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780859898966
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Subjects: Biography, British History, Cornish Studies, History, South-West Studies

Winner of the Adult Non-Fiction section of the Holyer an Gof Awards 2006, and Overall Winner of the Holyer an Gof Trophy, this gripping biographical study, published here for the first time in paperback, explores the immensely complicated relationship that existed between A.L. Rowse and his native Cornwall.

Rowse’s books, A Cornish Childhood and Tudor Cornwall, remain in strong demand and are essential reading for the general reader and historian alike, and for all those who know and love Cornwall. By shedding new light on this complex character, Payton invites a greater understanding of the broader issues of Cornish identity as well as assessing Rowse’s highly original contribution to the writing of British and Cornish history.

List of Illustrations


1 'This Was the Land of My Content': A Fitting Epitaph?

2 'No Wonder I Preferred Life at All Souls': Escaping a Cornish Childhood

3 'You're No Rowse': The Mount–Mabel–Montana

4 'She Made Me Detest the Very Nature of Women': A Mother's Legacy?

5 'A Deep Anxiety to Do His Best for Cornwall': Confronting the Politics of Paralysis

6 'Haunted by Cornwall': A Case of Mutual Rejection?

7 'Not Being English, Alas–But Hopelessly Cornish': Embracing Churchill's England

8 'The Biggest and Most Significant of Cornish Themes': America and the Great Emigration

9 'I Have Been "In Love" with Cornwall All My Life': Reclaiming the Cornish Past and Future

10 'Marooned on My Headland': Retirement, Isolation and Loneliness

11 'All the Island Peoples': Writing British and Cornish History

Conclusion: 'What Could I Not Have Done for Cornwall!'


Further Reading

Lost of the Principle Works by A.L. Rowse



‘…this proved to be a very balanced evaluation and explanation of Rowse’s relationship with his native people and place.’
‘This is an excellent biography which is highly readable and well worth the effort. It does throw new light on the man and his place amongst Cornish letters and, despite all the negatives and contradictions, recognises Rowse’s claim to be, if not necessarily the greatest, certainly a very great Cornishman.’ (Cornwall Association of Local Historians Journal, No 50, Autumn 2005)

‘This extremely readable book attempts to set the record straight about one of Cornwall’s most famous sons. (…) Among the new material that Professor Payton has unearthed in the Rowse archive at Exeter University there is much on Rowse’s contribution to the study of local history and Cornish nationalism.’
‘Payton has achieved an enviable synthesis and fusion in this sympathetic but fair biography of a paradoxical patriot.’ (The Local Historian, Volume 35, No 4, November 2005)

‘It looks beyond the conventional four nations at all the groups in our islands, and focuses on local history and what was hidden from many national historians. His chapter ‘All the Island Peoples’ is particularly interesting in analyzing the latest positions on this approach, with appropriate side-glances to Rowse and to Cornwall.’ ‘This is really a stimulating book which ranges far beyond what might be taken as a restrictive title.’ (History Today, February 2008)

‘This comprehensive exploration of Rowse’s life is a must for any bookshelf dedicated to Cornish culture.’ (Cornwall Today, February 2008)

Philip Payton is Professor of Cornish Studies and Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter. He is the editor of the series Cornish Studies and the author of numerous books including The Making of Modern Cornwall (1992), The Cornish Overseas (1999; new edn. 2005) and A Vision of Cornwall (2002).

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 336 pages
 234mm x 156mm

 Paperback , 336 pages
 234mm x 156mm

 PDF , 336 pages

BIC Code:
  BIO000000, HIS015000, HIS018000, HIS037070, SOC053000
 University of Exeter Press


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