"A brilliant account of one of the seventeenth century's most dashing lives". (Ruth Scurr). "A master storyteller. Full of exquisite details, but with the grandest themes...this is a gripping adventure story". (Zia Haider Rahman). "Gripping and extraordinary". (Ann Wroe). On the 16th of August 1628, five battle-scarred English ships sailed into the harbour of the Greek island of Milos. Dropping anchor, the 25-year-old captain banqueted with the local lord before sitting down to write an account of his journey - an account that would transform him entirely. Sir Kenelm Digby was one of the most remarkable Englishmen who ever lived: a trusted advisor to the King, but the sworn enemy of the all-powerful Duke of Buckingham; a pioneering philosopher and scientist, but committed to the occult arts of alchemy and astrology; a friend not only of Ben Jonson, Thomas Hobbes and van Dyck, but even Oliver Cromwell. He was also widely known as the 'son of a traytor and husband of a whore': a man who witnessed his father's gruesome execution for high treason as a Gunpowder Plotter, and the lover of the most celebrated beauty of the age, Venetia Stanley.
In an attempt to clear his name, and on a quest for personal glory, Digby assembled a fleet and set sail for the Mediterranean: a world of pirate cities and ancient ruins where people, ideas and exotic goods moved freely between languages and nations. His journey - encompassing fevers, mutiny, piracy, daring rescues and heroic sea battles - is a great and terribly overlooked adventure, and a prism through which to view England, and all of Europe, during one of the most pivotal periods in its history. A Stain in the Blood is the story of an extraordinary life, and of a journey that helped to shape a nation. It is a revelatory first work of non-fiction by one of the brightest young writers and thinkers of today.
A revelatory new history of the seventeenth-century world through the life of one of the greatest Englishmen who ever lived.
"Combining the rigour and precision of the academic with the skills of a master storyteller, in this remarkable tale of one man, the author brings to life an important period of British and Mediterranean history. Full of exquisite details, but with the grandest themes - it has heroic love, it has religion and science, art and literature, power and politics - this is a gripping adventure story." -- Zia Haider Rahman, author of In The Light of What We Know "Romance and adventure, piracy and alchemy - Kenelm Digby blazed through one of the most remarkable lives of the seventeenth century. With his engaging blend of scholarship and storytelling, Joe Moshenska takes us on the eye-opening tale of an extraordinary man's daring quest for fame, fortune, and knowledge on the treacherous seas of the Mediterranean." -- Faramerz Dabhoiwala, author of The Origins of Sex "Gripping and extraordinary." -- Ann Wroe "A brilliant account of one of the seventeenth century's most dashing lives." -- Ruth Scurr, author of John Aubrey: My Own Life "With its deep historical knowledge and eye for glittering detail, A Stain in the Blood resurrects an extraordinary adventure from the archive. In this gripping, artful take on the genre, Joe Moshenska's biography draws a vivid portrait of this successor to Raleigh or Drake and his fascinating travels. Freighted with riches on every page, it will compel experts and general readers alike." -- Sarah Howe, author of Loop of Jade
Joe Moshenska spent parts of his childhood in France and Zimbabwe, and was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and at Princeton University, where he received his PhD. He is now a Fellow and Lecturer in English at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 2015 he was chosen as a BBC 'New Generation Thinker'.