Lawrence Norfolk


Born
in London, The United Kingdom
January 01, 1963

Genre


Lawrence Norfolk (born 1963) is a British novelist known for historical works with complex plots and intricate detail. His novels are also known for their unusually large vocabulary.

He was born in London but lived in Iraq until 1967 and then in the West Country of England. He read English at King's College London and graduated in 1986. He worked briefly as a teacher and later as a freelance writer for reference book publishers.

In 1992, he won the Somerset Maugham Award for his first novel, Lemprière's Dictionary, about events surrounding the publication, in 1788, of John Lemprière's Bibliotheca Classica on classical mythology and history.

His second novel, The Pope's Rhinoceros, is based on the history of an actual animal also known as Dürer
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Average rating: 3.59 · 3,955 ratings · 569 reviews · 15 distinct worksSimilar authors
John Saturnall's Feast

3.53 avg rating — 1,923 ratings — published 2012 — 33 editions
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Lemprière's Dictionary

3.68 avg rating — 1,041 ratings — published 1991 — 40 editions
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The Pope's Rhinoceros

3.47 avg rating — 447 ratings — published 1996 — 27 editions
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In the Shape of a Boar

3.44 avg rating — 227 ratings — published 2000 — 17 editions
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Ott's Sneeze

4.75 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2002
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Earthship

3.25 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2013
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Legends of Ancient Rome

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 3 ratings
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The Oxford And Cambridge Ma...

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2000
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Buzz Books 2012

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4.13 avg rating — 141 ratings — published 2012 — 3 editions
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The Last Window-Giraffe: A ...

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4.49 avg rating — 373 ratings — published 1998 — 23 editions
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“Now alongside Scovell, John eased preserved peaches out of galliot pots of syrup and picked husked walnuts from puncheons of salt. He clarified butter and poured it into rye-paste coffins. From the Master Cook, John learned to set creams with calves' feet, then isinglass, then hartshorn, pouring decoctions into egg-molds to set and be placed in nests of shredded lemon peel. To make cabbage cream he let the thick liquid clot, lifted off the top layer, folded it then repeated the process until the cabbage was sprinkled with rose water and dusted with sugar, ginger and nutmeg. He carved apples into animals and birds. The birds themselves he roasted, minced and folded into beaten egg whites in a foaming forcemeat of fowls.
John boiled, coddled, simmered and warmed. He roasted, seared, fried and braised. He poached stock-fish and minced the meats of smoked herrings while Scovell's pans steamed with ancient sauces: black chawdron and bukkenade, sweet and sour egredouce, camelade and peppery gauncil. For the feasts above he cut castellations into pie-coffins and filled them with meats dyed in the colors of Sir William's titled guests. He fashioned palaces from wafers of spiced batter and paste royale, glazing their walls with panes of sugar. For the Bishop of Carrboro they concocted a cathedral.
'Sprinkle salt on the syrup,' Scovell told him, bent over the chafing dish in his chamber. A golden liquor swirled in the pan. 'Very slowly.'
'It will taint the sugar,' John objected.
But Scovell shook his head. A day later they lifted off the cold clear crust and John split off a sharp-edged shard. 'Salt,' he said as it slid over his tongue. But little by little the crisp flake sweetened on his tongue. Sugary juices trickled down his throat. He turned to the Master Cook with a puzzled look.
'Brine floats,' Scovell said. 'Syrup sinks.' The Master Cook smiled. 'Patience, remember? Now, to the glaze...”
Lawrence Norfolk, John Saturnall's Feast

“They drank from a spring which filled an ancient stone trough behind the ruin. Beyond it lay overgrown beds and plants John had never set eyes on before: tall resinous fronds, prickly shrubs, long grey-green leaves hot to the tongue. Nestling among them he found the root whose scent drifted among the trees like a ghost, sweet and tarry. He knelt and pressed it to his nose.
'That was called silphium.' His mother stood behind him. 'It grew in Saturnus's first garden.'
She showed him the most ancient trees in the orchards, their gnarled trunks cloaked in grey lichen. Palm trees had grown there too once, she claimed. Now even their stumps had gone.
Each day, John left the hearth to forage in the wreckage of Belicca's gardens. His nose guided him through the woods. Beyond the chestnut avenue, the wild skirrets, alexanders and broom grew in drifts. John chased after rabbits or climbed trees in search of birds' eggs. He returned with mallow seeds or chestnuts that they pounded into meal then mixed with water and baked on sticks. The unseasonal orchards yielded tiny red and gold-streaked apples, hard green pears and sour yellow cherries.”
Lawrence Norfolk, John Saturnall's Feast

“Night by night, he led her through Saturnus's gardens, describing the dishes that might come from each one.
'Poached collops of venison,' he whispered in her ear. 'A quaking pudding with raisins, honey and saffron. Custards flavored with conserve of roses and a paste of quinces. Beef wrapped about a mash of artichoke and pistachio, then hollowed manchet rolls filled with minced eggs, sweet herbs and cinnamon...'
He described the foaming forcemeat of fowls then set before her a dish. He watched her scoop up a little of the pale orange mash.
'I confess that to this poor palate your forcemeats taste strongly of turnips.'
'Ah, but I have not yet described the seasonings of cumin and saffron, the beaten egg whites and the folding of the forcemeats into the pipkin.' He scooped more of the turnip mash and held out the spoon. 'Taste again, your ladyship. Imagine the spices...”
Lawrence Norfolk, John Saturnall's Feast

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