Books

Richard II (Penguin Monarchs)

Laura Ashe

Richard II (1377-99) came to the throne as a child, following the long, domineering, martial reign of his grandfather Edward III. He suffered from the disastrous combination of a most exalted sense of his own power and an inability to impress that power on those closest to the throne. Neither trusted nor feared, Richard battled with a whole series of failures and emergencies before finally succumbing to a coup, imprisonment and murder.

Laura Ashe's brilliant account of his reign emphasizes the strange gap between Richard's personal incapacity and the amazing cultural legacy of his reign - from the Wilton Diptych to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales.

Early Fiction in England

Laura Ashe

A brilliant new anthology that shows how fiction was reinvented in the twelfth century after an absence of hundreds of years. Essential for all students of medieval literature, Early Fiction in England includes extracts by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, Marie de France, Chaucer and many others, in new translations and with illuminating introductions.

Before the twelfth century, fiction had completely disappeared in Europe. In this important and provocative book, Laura Ashe shows how English writers brought it back, composing new tales about King Arthur, his knights and other heroes and heroines in Latin, French and English. Why did fiction disappear, and why did it come to life again to establish itself the dominant form of literature ever since? And what do we even mean by the term 'fiction'? Gathering extracts from the most important texts of the period by Wace, Marie de France, Chaucer and others, this volume offers an absorbing and surprising introduction to the earliest fiction in England.

The anthology includes a general introduction by Laura Ashe, introductions to each extract, explanatory notes and other useful editorial materials. All French and Latin texts have been newly translated, while Middle English texts include helpful glosses.

Laura Ashe is a University Lecturer in English and Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Her first book Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 (Cambridge University Press, 2007) has been followed by numerous articles and edited collections; she is now writing the new Oxford English Literary History vol. 1: 1000-1350 (Oxford University Press).

Biography

Laura Ashe is Associate Professor of English and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Her first book was Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 and she has edited Early Fiction in England: From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Chaucerfor Penguin Classics. The extraordinary flowering of English literature in the reign of Richard II features in much of her work. She is now writing the new Oxford English Literary History, vol. 1: 1000-1350.