Roland Philipps

Broken Archangel

Broken Archangel

The Tempestuous Lives of Roger Casement


Pioneering human rights campaigner, patriot, traitor, romantic and martyr. Broken Archangel is the life of Roger Casement, one of the twentieth century’s most complex and compelling figures.

In 1904, Casement became internationally celebrated for unearthing the grotesque, murderous violence of the Belgian Congo. Soon after he won even greater renown and a knighthood for his humanitarian work deep in the Amazon jungle.

But his internal fault lines ran deep: neither fully Irish nor English, baptised both Protestant and Catholic, desperate for love but forbidden intimacy, betrayed in his only significant relationship, he was of the English diplomatic establishment yet an outsider who fought for Irish nationhood. His final act in wartime Berlin – a doomed scheme to promote an invasion of Ireland – overwhelmed him, although his subsequent trial for treason brought him some resolution even as it took him to an unmarked prison grave.

Compassionate, self-deluding, courageous, altruistic, and plagued by poor health, Roger Casement was a contradictory figure made fallible by contemporary mores and his own powerful, unexamined emotions. Only decades later did an Irish state funeral finally assert his nobility above his notoriety – and only now can we fully understand his surprisingly modern and deeply relevant life and legacy.

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