I am delighted to announce that I have signed a contract with I. B. Tauris for a new book about St Edmund, entitled Edmund: In Search of England’s Lost King, which will be published in the first half of 2018. The book will be the first dedicated to tracing the development of St Edmund as England’s patron saint, and will advance a powerful case for the figure of Edmund as the foundation of a reinvigorated English national identity in the 21st century. The book argues for the rediscovery of St Edmund – both the literal rediscovery of his mortal remains, which are probably to be found under a tennis court in Bury St Edmunds, and the metaphorical discovery of Edmund as a unique figure in England’s history whose memory created England itself. Although we know vanishingly little of the historical Edmund, the symbolic figure of Edmund inspired the kings of Wessex to forge a kingdom in the tenth century and to define themselves by Edmund’s title, rex Anglorum (‘king of the English’). Edmund’s appeal to Anglo-Saxons, Danes and even Normans made him the lynchpin of a composite and flexible English national identity that is more important today than it has been at any time since the union of crowns in 1603.
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[…] converting to Christianity a very short time after their arrival in England (something that my forthcoming book on St Edmund will address next year). As Ronald Hutton has shown, the idea that paganism endured in […]