matthew kneale


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30.05.2020 Matthew Kneale: 'For me, all roads have led to Rome'

The author and historian talks about his new novel Pilgrims and life in the Eternal City


25.03.2019 'Seven Times Rome was sacked'


27.07.2018 'You won't find Matthew Kneale's Rome on Trip Advisor' (interview)

Conde Nast


15.05.2018 'Interview: Rome: A History in Seven Sackings'

Ancient History Encyclopedia


27.11.2017 - Reviews of the new book "Rome: History in Seven Sackings"

Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph, 27th Nov 2017 - Best History Books 2017

‘Engagingly told.’

Christian House, Observer, 5th November 2017

‘A stirring portrait of a city at war.’

‘The historian and novelist’s episodic account of a resilient population brings Rome’s fractious past to life.’

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times, 27th November 2017 - Best History Books of 2017

‘As a prize-winning novelist, (Kneale) writes with terrific flair and enthusiasm… few history books this year have been so addictively entertaining.’

28.10.2017 - Reviews of the new book "Rome: History in Seven Sackings"

The Times: Book of the Week

Sunday Times:

Peter Thonemann, Sunday Times, 8th October 2017:
‘Each chapter ends with a thrilling narrative of the fall of Rome…’
‘Enough to make you wonder why more novelists don’t try their hand at history writing.’
‘Kneale’s account is a masterpiece of pacing and suspense. Characters from the city’s history spring to life in his hands.’
‘Kneale has a rare ability to stir the emotions without a hint of mawkishness of melodrama.’
‘This is a big, gaudy, ebullient book. Its unusual premise (the seven sackings as “postcards from Rome’s history”) could easily have felt gimmicky but, in fact, comes across as surprisingly natural.’
‘Kneale has done his adoptive cities proud, all seven of them.’

Literary Review:

Allan Massie, Literary Review, 2nd October 2017:
‘Kneale has found an elegant path through the labyrinth [of Roman history].’
‘Utterly compelling, brilliant indeed.’
‘Wonderfully moving and inspiring.’


19.11.2013 - An interview about my new book in London's Metro...


Sunday Telegraph 02.11.2013 – To make an almighty explosion, just add faith


New Statesman 24.10.2013 – Pope Francis’ mission to cleanse the Catholic Church of luxury





Matthew Kneale's new novel, 'Pilgrims' is a riveting, sweeping narrative that shows medieval society in a new light, as a highly rule-bound, legalistic world. Though religious fervour and the threat of violence are never far below the surface. Told by multiple narrators, 'Pilgrims' has much to say about Englishness, then and now.

It is the year 1289. A rich farmer fears he'll go to hell for cheating his neighbours. His wife wants pilgrim badges to sew into her hat and show off at church. A poor, ragged villager thinks his beloved cat needs to be rescued from the fires of purgatory. A mother is sure her son's illness is punishment for her own adultery and is desperate to be forgiven so he may be cured. A landlord is in trouble with the church after he punched an abbot on the nose. A sexually driven noblewoman wants to divorce her venal husband so she can marry her new young beau. A radical tailor wants to win of win the ear of the pope so he can overturn what he sees as a corrupt, unjust world that favours the rich. All of these characters join a group of pilgrims that sets off on the tough and dangerous journey from England to Rome, where they hope all their troubles will be answered. Some in the party have their own, secret reasons for going.

Reviews of the book include, from the Sunday Times, 'Matthew Kneale's new novel could hardly be a more welcome getaway from our present world of lockdown and social distancing... a novel that brims with comedy... Humane outrage pulses through this novel along with comic ebullience.'; '... a warm-hearted tale, full of intriguing historical detail, plot twists and comedic light touches.' (The Times). 'For all of the hilarity of the pilgrims' capers, Kneale does a good job of showing us the darker side of British history - and reminding us that in silence lies complicity.' (Financial Times). '... a sly, humane comedy' (Guardian). 'A source of constant delight... a wonderful novel.' (Front Row, BBC Radio 4).



Copyright Matthew Kneale 2013
Matthew Kneale - An Atheist's History of Belief, Understanding our most extraordinary invention - the new non-fiction book from the author of 'English Passengers', winner of the Whitbread Book of the year Award