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  • Antonia Fraser at The Richmond Literature Festival

    Arts Richmond's Contribution to the Literature Festival. Antonia Fraser discusses her new book 'The King and the Catholics'

    Wednesday 6 November 2019 - Saturday 6 July 2019

    Duke Street Church

    Duke St
    TW9 1DH


    The Fight for Rights 1829

    by Antonia Fraser

    The story of Catholic Emancipation begins with blood: the violent Anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in 1780, fuelled by the reduction in Penal Laws against the Roman Catholics harking back to the sixteenth century.   Some fifty years later, the passing of the Emancipation Bill was hailed as a ‘bloodless revolution’.  However, some jobs remained barred to Catholics, and the King (or Queen) would always be a Protestant. 


    Had the Irish Catholics been a ‘millstone’, as described by an English aristocrat, or were they the prime movers?  While the English Catholic aristocracy and the Irish peasants and merchants approached the Catholic Question in very different ways, they manifestly shared the same objective. 


    The King and the Catholics is gripping character-driven narrative history at its very best; the story of individuals who are by turns flawed and admirable: George III, who opposed Emancipation on the basis of the Coronation Oath; his son, the indulgent Prince of Wales, who was enamoured with the Catholic Maria Fitzherbert before the voluptuous Lady Conyngham; Wellington and the ‘born Tory’ Peel vying for leadership; ‘roaring’ Lord Winchilsea; the heroic Daniel O’Connell. 


    Antonia Fraser invests humanity in a huge cast of characters, and brings colour and humour to the vivid drama. We witness the arrival on Shoreham Beach of displaced nuns fleeing revolutionary France, the sensational libel trial of John Magee, the first Royal visit to Ireland since Richard II in 1399, and a duel between Prime Minister Wellington and Lord Winchilsea.   


    Expertly written and deftly argued, The King and Catholics is also a distant mirror of our times, reflecting the political issues arising from religious intolerance. #


    Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works which have been international bestsellers. The prizes she has won include the Wolfson Award for History and the Norton Medlicott Medal of the Historical Association.  She has been President of English PEN, chairman of the Society of Authors, and chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association.

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