The Great Romantic
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER AND WINNER OF THE 2019 WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR
Duncan Hamilton is already a multiple award-winning sports writer, but it is hard to imagine he will write a better book than this superb, elegiac portrait of the sociable, feted, but ultimately unknowable, man who virtually invented modern sports writing…This is writing every bit the equal of Cardus himself. – Daily Mail
‘Hamilton is a worthy biographer… as much sublime writing comes from his keyboard as from Cardus’s pen.’ The Times
‘With its verve, insight and generosity of sympathy, this is by some way the best full-length life of a cricket writer, perhaps even of any sports writer.’ Guardian
Neville Cardus described how one majestic stroke-maker ‘made music’ and ‘spread beauty’ with his bat. Between two world wars, he became the laureate of cricket by doing the same with words.
In The Great Romantic, award-winning author Duncan Hamilton demonstrates how Cardus changed sports journalism for ever. While popularising cricket – while appealing, in Cardus’ words to people who ‘didn’t know a leg-break from the pavilion cat at Lord’s’- he became a star in his own right with exquisite phrase-making, disdain for statistics and a penchant for literary and musical allusions.
Among those who venerated Cardus were PG Wodehouse, John Arlott, Harold Pinter, JB Priestley and Don Bradman. However, behind the rhapsody in blue skies, green grass and colourful characters, this richly evocative biography finds that Cardus’ mother was a prostitute, he never knew his father and he received negligible education. Infatuations with younger women ran parallel to a decidedly unromantic marriage. And, astonishingly, the supreme stylist’s aversion to factual accuracy led to his reporting on matches he never attended.
Yet Cardus also belied his impoverished origins to prosper in a second class-conscious profession, becoming a music critic of international renown. The Great Romantic uncovers the dark enigma within a golden age.
In Duncan Hamilton, one of the most accomplished of current sports writers, Cardus has found a worthy biographer who has ferreted out hidden details of his life, including those that Cardus himself skated over in his two volumes of autobiography. The Great Romantic is beautifully written, and Cardus would surely have approved of it. -- Stephen Bates * Literary Review * Hamilton is steeped in the history and traditions of football and communicates his knowledge lightly and with wit and intelligence. Above all, though, this is a fan's-eye view that brilliantly expresses the passion that millions like him, in pursuit of happiness and belonging, feel for the beautiful game. Simply magnificent. * Mail on Sunday * Praise for Going to the Match * : * This is not just stand-out sports writing but a stand-out study: one writer acknowledging another. * Sydney Morning Herald * The Great Romantic has a strong personal flavour, especially in its tour de force of a prologue...the interest seldom falters. With its verve, insight and generosity of sympathy, this is by some way the best full-length life of a cricket writer, perhaps even of any sports writer. -- David Kynaston * The Guardian * Hamilton is a worthy biographer. Ten years after his fine biography of Harold Larwood, the maligned England fast bowler, this is just as good, and as much sublime writing comes from his keyboard as from Cardus's pen. -- Patrick Kidd * The Times * Duncan Hamilton has written some of the best books about sport in recent years. Twice he has won the William Hill for the sports book of the year... He [Cardus] interpreted cricket through a filter of his own, an imagination of uncommon sensitivity, and all who came after are in his debt. All lovers of cricket will enjoy this book. You could say that Hamilton has done it again. -- Michael Henderson * The Cricketer * Duncan Hamilton is already a multiple award-winning sports writer, but it is hard to imagine he will write a better book than this superb, elegiac portrait of the sociable, feted, but ultimately unknowable, man who virtually invented modern sports writing...This is writing every bit the equal of Cardus himself. * Daily Mail *
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