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Review Article New Perspectives on an Old Book: The Creation and Influence of Foxe's ‘Book of Martyrs’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 1998


John Foxe and the English Reformation. Edited by David Loades. Pp. xii+340 incl. 54 figs. Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1997

This volume, a collection of papers presented at a colloquium held in Cambridge in 1995 on John Foxe and his seminal work, the Acts and monuments (popularly known as Foxe's ‘Book of Martyrs’), has the chief virtue of any good collection of conference papers: it presents a range of diverse topics approached from a variety of disciplines and methodologies by a number of respected scholars. This volume also succeeds in avoiding one of the paramount shortcomings of such collections, a lack of focus and common themes. In fact, Loades's book is so tightly focused that its title is slightly misleading inasmuch as the articles in it tend to ignore Foxe's life and career (indeed several of the contributors write about periods, decades or even centuries after Foxe's death), while only one article in it discusses any of the other works, apart from his martyrology, that Foxe wrote. Instead the contributions to this collection largely address three topics: the composition or manufacture of the Acts and monuments, the influence of continental writers and craftsmen on the book and, finally, its influence on Foxe's contemporaries or on subsequent generations. As such this is the most important book on the Acts and monuments, that most important of books, since William Haller's influential study was published over three decades ago.

Review Article
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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