A. L. Rowse, who died in 1997, was the author of a vast number of books,
all of them readable and most of them fiercely arrayed against what he
considered to be declining standards of manners, morals, and politics.
He was more than a mere curmudgeon, though. His background was
extraordinary: from a working-class family, he got a scholarship to
Oxford, and from there was elected to All Souls College, the most
exclusive of all faculties. He was a Shakespearean scholar who
identified the Dark Lady of the sonnets, a historian of vast scope, and a
biographer and memoirist, most notably of his beloved Cornwall. He
never shied from controversy, and tore great chunks out of other writers
in print. In short, Rowse led a fascinating life that bears reading
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