ART LIFE; POSTCARD BIOGRAPHIES FROM THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

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The Independent Culture
From the late 1920s, the National Portrait Gallery invited writers to create 70-word biographies of NPG subjects for the backs of postcards. In this second series, we present more of these unexpected and unknown literary gems.

15: John Drinkwater (1882-1937) on Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)

An inconspicuous farmer with a modest local reputation in public affairs until he was forty. But his character epitomised the smouldering Puritan revolt, and when Civil War broke out he revealed a demoniac energy. He made and led a new army, which was never defeated in the field. Destroying royalist tyranny, he himself became an autocratic ruler for ten years. His power reverted to the Stuarts at his death, but he laid the foundations of civil liberty in England. John Drinkwater

A prolific poet, dramatist and critic, John Drinkwater was also an actor, and founded the troupe which became the Birmingham Rep in 1907. His play, Cromwell, was premiered in 1921, and he also contributed a short sketch of Samuel Pepys's life to the NPG.

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