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Peter Vansittart Biography

(1920– ), I Am the World, The Friends of God, The Lost Lands

historical novels fiction history

British novelist, born in Bedford, educated at Worcester College, Oxford. He worked as a schoolteacher for twenty-five years before becoming a full-time writer. His first work, I Am the World (1942), is a metaphysical fiction on utopian themes in the manner of R. Warner. Several of his novels, such as The Friends of God (1963), The Lost Lands (1964), Pastimes of a Red Summer (1969), and The Wall (1990), are erudite historical studies; others, like A Verdict of Treason (1952), Orders of Chivalry (1958), Landlord (1970), Quintet (1976), and Aspects of Feeling (1986), are anatomies of contemporary English life. Among his most striking works are a series of novels, including The Story Teller (1968), Lancelot (1978), The Death of Robin Hood (1981), and Parsifal (1988), in which fantasy fruitfully engages with historical detail. A more recent novel, A Safe Conduct (1995), depicts fifteenth-century Germany. His non-fiction includes Green Knights, Black Angels: The Mosaic of History (1969); Worlds and Underworlds: Anglo-European History Through the Centuries (1974); a memoir, Paths from a White Horse (1985); and In the Fifties (1995), a portrait of the decade.

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