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Peter Ackroyd quotes (showing 1-30 of 125)

“And when I was young, did I ever tell you, I always wanted to get inside
a book and never come out again? I loved reading so much I wanted
to be a part of it, and there were some books I could have stayed in
for ever.”
Peter Ackroyd, First Light
tags: books
“The world is a sea in which we all must surely drown.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
“I have liv'd long enough for others, like the Dog in the Wheel, and it is now the Season to begin for myself: I cannot change that Thing call'd Time, but I can alter its Posture and, as Boys do turn a looking-glass against the Sunne, so I will dazzle you all.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“The best years are when you know what you're doing.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
“Sometimes the silences, the gaps, tell us more than
anything else.”
Peter Ackroyd, First Light
“The ordinary routines of life are never chronicled by the historian, but they make up almost the whole of experience.”
Peter Ackroyd, Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors
“There is no humiliation worse than the consciousness of a wasted
life. It stains the spirit, forestalls hope, and destroys any motive for
action or change.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
“The endless chatter of this journey had wearied me.”
Peter Ackroyd, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
“It is strange, is it not, how a person can adore one's soul so much that they adore one's body also?”
Peter Ackroyd, The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde
“He stood beneath the white tower, and looked up at it with that mournful expression which his face always carried in repose: for one moment he thought of climbing up its cracked and broken stone, and then from its summit screaming down at the silent city as a child might scream at a chained animal.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“Under the force of the imagination, nature itself is changed.”
Peter Ackroyd, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
“For when I trace back the years I have liv'd, gathering them up in my Memory, I see what a chequer'd Work Of Nature my life has been. If I were now to inscribe my own History with its unparalleled Sufferings and surprizing Adventures (as the Booksellers might indite it), I know that the great Part of the World would not believe the Passages there related, by reason of the Strangeness of them, but I cannot help their Unbelief; and if the Reader considers them to be but dark Conceits, then let him bethink himself that Humane life is quite out of the Light and that we are all Creatures of Darknesse.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“Bigotry does not consort easily with free trade.”
Peter Ackroyd, Venice: Pure City
“Is Dust immortal then, I ask'd him, so that we may see it blowing through the Centuries? But as Walter gave no Answer I jested with him further to break his Melancholy humour: What is Dust, Master Pyne?
And he reflected a little: It is particles of Matter, no doubt.
Then we are all Dust indeed, are we not?
And in a feigned Voice he murmered, For Dust thou art and shalt to Dust return. Then he made a Sour face, but only yo laugh the more.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“…a lie, once uttered, changes reality just as surely as if it were a great truth.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
“I lack the World, for I move like a Ghost through it.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“There were pools of light among the stacks, directly beneath the bulbs which Philip had switched on, but it was now with an unexpected fearfulness that he saw how the books stretched away into the darkness. They seemed to expand as soon as they reached the shadows, creating some dark world where there was no beginning and no end, no story, no meaning. And if you crossed the threshold into that world, you would be surrounded by words; you would crush them beneath your feet, you would knock against them with your head and arms, but if you tried to grasp them they would melt away. Philip did not dare turn his back upon these books. Not yet. It was almost, he thought, as if they had been speaking to each other while he slept.”
Peter Ackroyd
“I realized that my time in this place had come to an end; now that my schooldays
were over, I no longer belonged here. I had always been a stranger and, if I
stayed, I would become a stranger to myself as well.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
“Destruction is like a snow-ball rolled down a Hill, for its Bulk encreases by its own swiftness and thus Disorder spreads.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“To be insular is to be independent. But it is also to be alone.”
Peter Ackroyd, Venice: Pure City
“There is a camaraderie that grows up among those who work with old books and old papers, largely, I suspect, because we understand that we are at odds with the rest of the world: we are travelling backwards, while all those around us are still moving forward.”
Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee
“I am the scourge of God”
Peter Ackroyd, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree
“...he found it difficult to discuss any of his activities, which seemed to him no more than the hole through which he was falling.”
Peter Ackroyd
“His body had become a companion which seemed always about to leave him: it had its own pains which moved him to pity, and its own particular movements which he tried hard to follow. He had learned from it how to keep his eyes down on the road, so that he could see no one, and how important it was never to look back - although there were times when memories of an earlier life filled him with grief and he lay face down upon the grass until the sweet rank odour of the earth brought him to his senses. But slowly he forgot where it was he had come from, and what it was he was escaping.”
Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
“A person who had no one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body. As for me my only hope is for eternal nothingness and I hope it with all my heart.”
Peter Ackroyd, The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde
“The embrace of present and past time, in which English antiquarianism becomes a form of alchemy, engenders a strange timelessness. It is as if the little bird which flew through the Anglo-Saxon banqueting hall, in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, gained the outer air and became the lark ascending in Vaughan Williams's orchestral setting. The unbroken chain is that of English music itself.”
Peter Ackroyd, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination
“I was at peace with a world which afforded so much bounty, and began to enjoy living at the very end of time.”
Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee
“So we may use our books to form a barricade against the world,
interweaving their words with our own to ward off the heat of the day.”
Peter Ackroyd, English Music
tags: books
“Books do not per­ish like hu­mankind. Of course we com­mon­ly see them bro­ken in the hab­er­dash­er's shop when on­ly a few months be­fore they lay bound on the sta­tion­er's stall; these are not true works, but mere trash and new­fan­gle­ness for the vul­gar. There are thou­sands of such gew­gaws and toys which peo­ple have in their cham­bers, or which they keep up­on their shelves, be­liev­ing that they are pre­cious things, when they are the mere pass­ing fol­lies of the pass­ing time and of no more val­ue than pa­pers gath­ered up from some dunghill or raked by chance out of the ken­nel. True books are filled with the pow­er of the un­der­stand­ing which is the in­her­itance of the ages: you may take up a book in time, but you read it in eter­ni­ty.”
Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee
tags: books
“None of it seemed very real, but I suppose that's the trouble with
history. It's the one thing we have to make up for ourselves.”
Peter Ackroyd, Chatterton

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