Reprobates, By John Stubbs


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The Independent Culture

Cavaliers vs Roundheads: we know what they stand for, both in the English civil wars and as later bywords for reactionary hedonism or radical austerity. Right? Wrong: "People remain more complex than their partisan labels allow," writes Stubbs in this colourful, subtle and gripping group-history of the Cavalier poets, politicians and adventurers of the 17th century.

Drawing on poetry, diaries, plays, letters and biographies, his book introduces us to chancers, dreamers, plotters and clowns, often torn in their motives, and "more comfortable with irony than with absolutes".

Ditch those stereotypes, and enjoy this galloping ride through pubs, palaces, battlefields and brothels as the "reprobates" stake all on the King, lose – and win again.