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Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life is the response, at long last, to Evelyn Waugh's call, in 1935, for a 'scholarly biography' to replace Richard Simpson's Edmund Campion (1867). Whereas early accounts of his life focused on the execution of the Jesuit priest, this new biography presents a more balanced assessment, placing equal weight on Campion's London upbringing among printers and preachers, and on his growing stature as an orator in an Oxford riven with religious divisions. Ireland, chosen by Campion as a haven from religious conflict, is shown, paradoxically, to have determined his life and his death. Gerard Kilroy here draws on newly discovered manuscript sources to reveal Campion as a charismatic and affectionate scholar who was finding fulfilment as priest and teacher in Prague when he was summoned to lead the first Jesuit mission to England. The book argues that the delays in his long journey suggest reluctant acceptance, even before he was told that Dr Nicholas Sander had brought 'holy war' to Ireland, so that Campion landed in an England that was preparing for papal invasion. The book offers fresh insights into the dramatic search for Campion, the populist nature of the disputations in the Tower, and the legal issues raised by his torture. It was the monarchical republic itself that, in pursuit of the Anjou marriage, made him the beloved 'champion' of the English Catholic community. Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life presents the most detailed and comprehensive picture to date of an historical figure whose loyalty and courage, in the trial and on the scaffold, swiftly became legendary across Europe.
Gerard Kilroy is the author of Edmund Campion: Memory and Transcription (Ashgate, 2005) and of TheEpigrams of Sir John Harington (Ashgate, 2009). He is an Honorary Visiting Professor in the Department of English at University College London, read Classics and English at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was awarded his doctorate by Lancaster University.