Barry, Michael Thomas. Great Britain’s Royal Tombs: A Guide to the Lives and Burial Places of British Monarchs.

Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2012.

I have a longstanding interest in the history of the royal and aristocratic families of Europe (even though I don’t actually approve of them), so when a new book appears on the subject, I generally seek it out. Barry is a criminal justice graduate who, besides crime writing, seems to have made the history of cemeteries and who is buried in them a hobby. (Doesn’t seem strange at all to me.)

Here, he provides a readable, though not original, survey of the English monarchy from William I (the duke’s Anglo-Saxon predecessors are lumped together in a couple of prefatory pages) to the present day. He summarizes their personalities, major events in their reigns, and a bit about their family lives, and then focuses on where and how they died and where they were buried. The most useful thing about the book is that he includes nice color photos (many taken by him personally, apparently) of tombs and grave markers of all the monarchs and their consorts. There are also numerous other photos, of abbeys and cathedrals and battle sites and palaces and memorials. And he uses highly romanticized 19th-century putative portraits for those monarchs and their consorts who predate the artists of the Renaissance, which, frankly, I wish he passed on. Most of them are laughably unrealistic. Still, the book is worth an afternoon’s read and the photos are nice.

Unfortunately, as so often happens with the work of small publishers, the copyediting of this volume is appallingly inadequate. There are frequent missing words, randomized punctuation, and obvious grammatical errors. Seven pages of running heads in the front of the volume include as a column label, “King’s and Queens of Britain.” Cited book titles sometimes appear in italics, sometimes not, and sometimes the author’s name is italicized as well. Captions are sometimes attached to the wrong photos. Nor do I believe George II was buried in 1670, ninety years before his death. Actually, the text is generally well written (in its content if not its rendition) and factually accurate, as well as properly skeptical of undocumented traditions and folklore, but in addition to the systemic problems noted above, practically every page seems to contain one or more egregious typos, which rather spoils the experience.

Published in: on 3 January 2014 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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