Charles Wychwood is a failure both as a poet, his ambition, and as a provider for his wife and son. But he stumbles upon a painting and some papers which suggest that Thomas Chatterton, the famed eighteenth century forger, poet and suicide, may have faked his own death. But severe headaches portend his own fatality.
This is a book about reality and forgery, about plagiarism and originality, about truth and lies. It flits back and forth between Chatterton's London in 1770, the London of 1856 in which Henry Wallis paints the iconic Death of Chatterton using young poet George Meredith as the model, and a modern London peopled with Dickensian caricatures. These are among Ackroyd's most grotesque creations: mousy librarian Philip, gay gallery owner Cumberland and his jolly hockey sticks secretary who always refers to herself as the Head Girl, and the wonderfully vulgar and tactless drunk novelist Harriet Scrope.
A thoroughly enjoyable read. April 2013; 234 pages
A rather lighter take on literary forgery, without such Dickensian characters, is Ackroyd's The Lambs of London.
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57