Richard Francis

With Friends like these…

The ultimate driving force of William Penn’s adult life is inaccessible, as the Quaker phrase ‘Inner Light’ suggests. While a young man administering the family estates in Ireland, Penn experienced ‘convincement’, another Quaker term for what other Dissenters called conversion. But while these experiences were inward and personal, they had public consequences. Since they were

The best sort of magic realism

Michael Fishwick’s new novel tells the story of a young man called Robbie, who has been uprooted from his London home after his mother’s death. He finds himself in rural Dorset, where he inhabits a capacious present that has ample room for the intrusions of the mythic past. Struggling with his loss, Robbie has taken

Back from the front

In his preface Sebastian Junger tells us that this book grew out of an earlier article. It obviously didn’t grow much, since the main text is still only 138 (small) pages long, less than half the length of its predecessors The Perfect Storm and War, though it comes armed with a list of sources amounting

A chronic case of mass hysteria

There have been many books devoted to the terrible events that took place in the small rural community of Salem Village and its larger sister, Salem Town, between February 1692 and May 1693. As Stacy Schiff points out, most of them are shaped by particular theses — she lists 13 in all. This approach doesn’t