Anthony Adolph

Anthony Adolph is a professional writer, genealogist and broadcaster living in London. He has worked as a professional genealogist for twenty five years, tracing family trees all over the world and writing five major reference books on the subject for Collins including the best-selling Tracing Your Family History; an introduction to genealogy for children, Who Am I?; and Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors (Pen and Sword, 2013). His book Ancient Ancestors: tracing our family tree from the dawn of time in science and myth is being published in 2015 by Pen and Sword. He has also researched and presented programmes about family history on Radio 4, Channel 4 and BBC1.

His first biography was The King’s Henchman: Henry Jermyn, Stuart Spymaster and Architect of the British Empire. Its synopsis was short-listed for the Biographers’ Club prize in 2002, and its publication, the culmination of work over 22 years, was by Gibson Square in 2012, with a corrected version in paperback in 2013, entitled The King’s Henchman: the Commoner and the Royal who saved the Monarchy from Cromwell.

The King’s Henchman reconstructs, from scratch, the life of Henry Jermyn (1605-1684), who rose from being the second son of a Suffolk squire to become the favourite ofQueen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.  Hitherto entirely overlooked by historians, Jermyn became a formidable force in English politics as Charles I’s regime collapsed, played a leading role in the Civil War – he and the Queen raised their own army in Yorkshire and brought it down triumphantly to reinforce the King in Oxford – then held together the English government in exile in the Louvre, helped engineer the Restoration of Charles II and proceeded to play a considerable behind-the scenes role in Anglo-French relations right up to his crucial negotiations for Charles II’s massive French financial subsidies at the end of the 1670s and start of the 1680s. Add to that the persistent rumours that Jermyn may actually have been Charles II and James II’s father, and that he created St James’s Square and Jermyn Street from scratch, laying the foundations for the future, elegant greatness of London and being dubbed ‘the Founder of the West End’, and there emerges for the first time from the shadows of history a truly engaging, intriguing and enormously likeable man. Jermyn’s story, based closely on this book, was the subject of Fiona Mountain’s romantic novel Cavalier Queen.

Anthony Adolph’s second biography  is Brutus of Troy and the quest for the ancestry of the British, due to be published later in 2015. The mythological founder of Britain and great grandson of Aeneas (the hero of Virgil’s Aeneid), Brutus is said to have led the descendants of the survivors of the fall of Troy to Britain, where he defeated the giants, peopled the land for the first time and laid the foundations of London as Troynovant, the new Troy in the west. He was long held to be a true historical character, but is in fact a purely literary invention, ever since his name was invented out of the name of Britain itself by monks during the Dark Ages. Brutus was given a brief life-story in the 820s by Nennius and a much fuller story by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1135. His story was then embellished throughout the Middle Ages, during which time he was accepted as a genuine historical character and cited extensively in royal propaganda and foreign policy. Brutus enjoyed a heyday under the Tudors and early Stuarts, who claimed descent from him, after which he faded out of mainstream politics but remained a potent character in literature, inspiring Milton, Nahum Tate, Hildebrand Jacob, Blake, Alexander Pope, John Ogilvie (and perhaps, earlier, even Shakespeare) to write about him.  So complex is the skein of myths surrounding Brutus that nobody had ever attempted a full-length biography of him before – so this is the first time the mythological founder of Britain has been accorded proper biographical treatment.

Anthony Adolph’s website is www.anthonyadolph.co.uk.