Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story

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Overview


Halloween 1636: sightings of the ghost of an old woman begin to be reported in the small English coastal town of Minehead, and a royal commission is sent to investigate. December 1640: a disgraced Protestant bishop is hanged in the Irish capital, Dublin, after being convicted of an "unspeakable" crime.

In this remarkable piece of historical detective work, Peter Marshall sets out to uncover the intriguing links between these two seemingly unconnected events.

The result is a compelling tale of dark family secrets, of efforts to suppress them, and of the ways in which they finally come to light. It is also the story of a shocking seventeenth-century Church scandal which cast its shadow over religion and politics in Britain and Ireland for the best part of three centuries, drawing in a host of well known and not-so-well-known characters along the way, including Jonathan Swift, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Walter Scott.

A fascinating story in its own right, Mother Leakey and the Bishop is also a sparkling demonstration of how the telling of stories is central to the way we remember the past, and can become part of the fabric of history itself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an extraordinary book.... Marshall's splendidly readable book is a model of how history should be written and practiced."--William Gibson, Archives

"This is as fine an example of microhistory as is likely to be written. Marshall not only demonstrates convincingly the link between the stories of Mother Leakey and Bishop John Atherton, not only expertly and painstakingly unravels the strange world in which they occurred, but does so in a highly readable and often entertaining fashion.... Marshall expertly weaves disparate pieces into a compelling whole, and finds links which were by no means obvious.... He displays a lovely style.... But good as Marshall is at the genre, he goes beyond where most of its practitioners dare tread."--Craig Harline, Church History and Religious Culture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199532070
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Marshall is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, with a particular interest in the study of religious belief and practice in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England and the cultural impact of the English Reformation. He has published widely in the field, including a survey of the period, Reformation England 1480-1642, and The Catholic Priesthood and the English Reformation, also published by Oxford University Press.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: A Haunting in Minehead
1. The World of the Leakeys
2. The Leakeys' Other World Interlude: A Hanging in Dublin
3. The Devil Let Loose Off his Chain
4. The Shameful End of Bishop Atherton
5. The Penitent Death of a Woeful Sinner Interlude: In a London Coffee House
6. Athenianism
7. The Narratives of the Reverend John Quick
8. Atherton and Leakey; History and Folklore Epilogue: Mother Leakey's Parlour Cast of Characters Further Reading

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