Where Brilliant Deduction looked into real detectives who are (now) much less famous than fictional counterparts, Cotton’s Library looks into a priceless historic collection much less famous than individual items within it.
The highlights of this collection include some of the most important documents of Anglophone civilization: the sole manuscript sources of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, two of four surviving 1215 copies of Magna Carta, and the masterfully illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels. The English antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton brought all of these together around 400 years ago, along with thousands of other historic documents.
Yet Cotton and his collection remain relatively little-known despite the renown of many individual items in his library, as well as a story both during and after Sir Robert’s time that almost defies belief. Cotton served time as a prisoner in the Tower of London twice, on dubious charges concealing royal discomfort with the library’s prominence among political critics. King Charles I ordered the library itself locked up in 1629; it remained sealed when its brokenhearted founder expired two years later.
Through the centuries that followed, war, neglect, fires, corrupt library-keepers and later collectors’ poaching all threatened the collection’s ruin repeatedly.
With some tragic exceptions, though, the Cotton library has survived them all. The story of its often narrow escapes is a tribute to unsung heroes of history, beginning with Cotton and continuing into the modern era. Their collective efforts to preserve the library’s great treasures for posterity, set against the sweep of history from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, form an epic worthy of James Michener, all of it real.
[The careers of detectives profiled in Brilliant Deduction] span nearly two centuries, and it is fascinating to learn about how they went about their work, and why solving crimes became so vital to them. … They are as interesting as any fictional character you will read about. Knowing these individuals made the history books and inspired others makes them even more engaging.
A great read, for both mystery and history buffs as Brilliant Deduction combines the two.
Meanwhile, as the reviews are at last issuing (and a few kind people are even buying the book, too), it almost feels like I might be approaching just a little of that invaluable momentum. At all events it may not be a bad time to note that you can help me out, dear reader; leaving comments or reviews, recommending my book, reading it in public, etc., etc., all mean a lot! Many, many thanks!
Somewhere back along the way, during this whole write-and-professionally-publish-a-book thing, I think there was some notion of selling lots of copies of the work. And one still finds this idea appealing.
Still, there’s something kind of cool about knowing that not only do I have a book, but I have a book on the shelves at real, proper public libraries. Brilliant Deduction is or soon will be available at both branches of Lakewood’s library system, as well as three branches of Cleveland’s.
Looking at those records, seeing my name in there listed just like a real author, I feel like I’m somebody…