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Matthew Kneale Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Whore Banquets (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Inside Rose's Kingdom (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sweet Thames (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
English Passengers (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mr Foreigner (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
When We Were Romans (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pilgrims (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Publication Order of Collections

Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

An Atheist's History of Belief (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rome: A History in Seven Sackings (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Rome Plague Diaries (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Matthew Kneale
Matthew Kneale was born in London on November 24, 1960. He grew up in Barnes, went to Latymer Upper School in West London. He is the son of writers Judith Kerr and Nigel Kneale, and he’s the grandson of Alfred Kerr (a German theater critic and essayist). Alfred was a critic and dissident of the Nazi Party and was forced to flee from Germany with his family in the year 1933. In 1967, Matthew first went with his mom on a visit to Germany.

While growing up, he was fascinated by other cultures (past and present) and as a student he traveled around Europe, Central America, South America, and the Indian subcontinent.

Matthew read Modern History at Oxford University and upon graduating in 1982, he spent one year teaching English in Japan. After he graduated he knew that he wanted to write yet had little idea how to go about such a thing. While living in Japan, he started writing short stories and kept a diary. Later, after he returned to England, his experience in Japan inspired “Whore Banquets”, his first novel.

During the next few years he lived mainly in London, traveled, spent one year in Rome. After moving to Oxford in 1990, he developed an interest in languages, trying to learn Romanian, Spanish, Albanian, Amharic (Ethiopian).

In 2000, he married Shannon Russell and they moved to Italy as well as Shannon’s homeland of Canada.

“Whore Banquets” won the 1988 Somerset Maugham Award and the Betty Trask Award. “Sweet Thames” won the 1993 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. “English Passengers” was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2000 and won the Whitbread Book of the Year 2000. The French translation won France’s Relay Prix d’Evasion.

“Sweet Thames” is a stand alone novel and was released in 1992. Summer of 1849 in London. With a lethal cholera epidemic threatening, Joshua Jeavons (a young engineer) is certain that it’s his mission to save the capital and reform its festering sewers.

At the same time, in his domestic life he’s troubled by the baffling coldness shown toward him by Isobella, his gorgeous bride. While he struggles to win her round, he works feverishly on a revolutionary drainage plan. It’s truly his dream, and his dazzling vision of the future: a London that’s free of effluent.

Then one mystifying and sudden disappearance throws his entire life upside down. He’s forced to embark on one harrowing search, which plucks him out of his respectable life and tosses him into a London that was previously unknown to him. It’s a netherworld of scavengers of the sewers, slum-dwellers, and pickpockets. He’ll find it is this same world which holds unexpected answers to all of the mysteries which surround him.

“English Passengers” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2000. In 1857, Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley and his group of rum smugglers from the Isle of Man have most of their contraband confiscated by British Customs, they’re forced to put their ship up for charter. Only takers are these two eccentric Englishmen that want to embark for the other side of the world. The Reverend Geoffrey Wilson believes that the Garden of Eden was located on the island of Tasmania. Dr. Thomas Potter (Geoffrey’s traveling partner) unbeknownst to Wilson, develops a sinister thesis on the races of men.

Meanwhile, one aboriginal in Tasmania called Peevay recounts the struggles of his people against the invading British, a tale that starts in 1824, moves into the present with the approach of the English passengers in 1857, and extends on into the future in 1870. These characters and a number of others come together in a storm of voices which vividly bring a past age to life.

“When We Were Romans” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2007. Lawrence, nine years old, is the man in his family. He watches over his willful younger sister (Jemima) and mom (Hannah) carefully. Hannah gets convinced that their estranged dad is stalking them, they flee to London and head for Rome, where Hannah once lived happily as a young woman.

For Lawrence, who is fascinated by tales of emperors and popes, Rome is quite the adventure. Even though they’re short on money, and move from one home to the next, staying with his mom’s old buddies, bit by bit their new life appears to be taking its shape. However the trouble which brought them to Italy isn’t quite leaving them in peace.

Narrated in Lawrence’s perfectly rendered voice, this novel powerfully evokes the confusions and emotions of childhood; the love, jealousies, triumphs, and fears. Even while everything he understands gets turned upside down, he stays determined to keep his family together. Lawrence views the world from a point of view that’s at once endearingly innocent and preternaturally wise.

“Pilgrims” is a stand alone novel and was released in 2020. 1289. One rich farmer fears that he will go to hell for cheating his neighbors. His wife wants pilgrim badges that she can sew into her hat and show off at church. A sexually driven noblewoman wants a divorce so she can marry her new young beau. One ragged, poor villager is certain that his beloved cat suffers in the fires of purgatory and has to be rescued. A landlord is in trouble with the church after he punched an abbot in the nose. A mom believes that her son’s dangerous illness is punishment for her own adultery and looks to get forgiveness so he might be cured.

These are among the ragtag group of pilgrims who set off on the dangerous and tough journey from England to Rome, where they each hope their troubles and prayers are going to be answered. Some in this group have their own secret agendas for going. Others, even though they may aspire to piety, succumb much too often to sins of the flesh.

A sweeping and riveting tale of historic Englishness and medieval society, “Pilgrims” illuminates the consolations and absurdities of belief, the fallibility of humans, and the incredibly real violence at the heart of religious fervor.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Matthew Kneale

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