First published in 1962, Jasper Ridley's biography of Thomas Cranmer, leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, examines the attitude of Cranmer's biographies and critics from Morice and Harpsfield to Pollard and Belloc, but draws its facts exclusively from contemporary authorities, subjecting their statements to careful scrutiny, and presenting a considerable amount of material for the first time, ignored by all previous biographers. Ridley threw new light on many old controversies and put forward a new interpretation of Cranmer's recantations and retraction, presenting a picture of Cranmer which surprised traditionalists of both the 'pro-Cranmer' and 'anti-Cranmer' schools.
'This is how an historical biography ought always to be written.' Times Literary Supplement 'May be taken as a model for biographies of this nature.' Times Educational Supplement 'Admirable and scholarly examination of one of the most problematic characters of the sixteenth century ... a most important book which provides light instead of heat.' Tablet 'Likely to remain the definitive life for a long time ... a fascinating story which, though severely historical, is more enthralling than most novels.' Daily Telegraph