A fascinating, lively account of the making of the King James Bible. James VI of Scotland -- now James I of England -- came into his new kingdom in 1603. Trained almost from birth to manage rival political factions, he was determined not only to hold his throne, but to avoid the strife caused by religious groups that was bedevilling most European countries. He would hold his God-appointed position and unify his kingdom. Out of these circumstances, and involving the very people who were engaged in the bitterest controversies, a book of extraordinary grace and lasting literary appeal was created: the King James Bible. 47 scholars from Cambridge, Oxford and London translated the Bible, drawing from many previous versions, and created what many believe to be the greatest prose work ever written in English -- the product of a culture in a peculiarly conflicted era. This was the England of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson and Bacon; but also of extremist Puritans, the Gunpowder plot, the Plague, of slum dwellings and crushing religious confines. Quite how this astonishing translation emerges is the central question of this book.
Adam Nicolson is the author of many books on history, travel and the environment. He is winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the British Topography Prize and lives on a farm in Sussex.