With 135 full length biographies of Oliver Cromwell, why write another one?
The title gives the game away. This first half of the book is a history and geography of Oliver Cromwell, and the second half is a review of his reputation after death. This is a new angle, suggested to me by the good people at Pen and Sword publishers, who know a USP when they see one, and it is now part of a series.
It covers the places where he was brought up and educated- Huntingdon and Cambridge, and later the places he lived St Ives and Ely. The book examines the influence of these places on his early upbringing and guides you to some of the places where you can still follow in his footsteps, including Hinchingbrooke House, the home of his uncle; his grammar school in Huntingdon, now a Cromwell Museum, and Cromwell’s house in Ely, now a major tourist attraction as a museum.
Its not just a tourist guide; it is a biography of his life with a particular emphasis on place. Place does matter; men like Cromwell, opposed to Charles I and the religious changes of the 1630s, where more likely to come from East Anglia than anywhere else.
Other places covered are the battlefields of Edgehill, Marston Moor and Naseby, Basing House, St Mary’s Putney where he debated (and rejected) democracy, Westminster Hall, where the trial of the king was held, and the Banqueting House, where he was executed. It also features:
- Putney- where Cromwell crushed the Leveller revolt
- The crucial and controversial events of Drogheda and Wexford
- The Battle of Worcester, where his enemies were defeated
- His home at Hampton Court Palace .
The last part is Cromwell’s reputation after death. This includes his changing reputation over time, the debate about him being a war criminal, the travels of his embalmed skull, depictions of Cromwell in films, and history of things named after him. This includes a famous stream engine and a supermarket gin.
Its different- its not an academic book; it is an introduction to Cromwell because it covers all the main parts of his life; its a book for people who want to go and visit the places mentioned but the book is still interesting if you don’t . If its your 20th book on Cromwell you will get some new perspectives.
Please consider buying a copy or request it from a library. Publisher details here.
Check Amazon ( but its not always the cheapest; believe me!) and preview the first part of the book for free.
If you are interested in the English Civil War; try these