Purkiss, Diane 1961–
Purkiss, Diane 1961–
(Tobias Druitt, a joint pseudonym)
Born June 30, 1961, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; immigrated to England; married; children: Michael Dowling. Education: University of Queensland, B.A. (first-class honors); Merton College Oxford, D.Phil.
Office—Department of English, Keble College Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PG, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Educator and author. University of East Anglia, lecturer in English, 1991-93; University of Reading, lecturer in English, 1992-98; Exeter University, Exeter, England, professor of professor of English, 1998-2000; Keble College Oxford, Oxford, England, fellow and tutor, 2000—.
(With son, Michael Dowling, under joint pseudonym Tobias Druitt) Corydon and the Island of Monsters, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Michael Dowling, under joint pseudonym Tobias Druitt) Corydon and the Siege of Troy, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2007.
(Editor, with Clare Brant, and contributor) Women, Texts, and Histories: 1575-1760, Routledge (New York, NY), 1992.
(Editor) Renaissance Women: The Plays of Elizabeth Cary: The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer, Pickering & Chatto (Brookfield, VT), 1994.
The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.
At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000, published as Troublesome Things: A History of Fairies and Fairy Stories, Penguin (London, England), 2000, published as Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History, Tempus, 2007.
The English Civil War: A People's History, HarperCollins (London, England), 2006, published as The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain, Basic Books (Boulder, CO), 2006.
A History of Food in England, HarperCollins (London, England), 2008.
The Dissolution of the English Monasteries, HarperCollins (London, England), 2010.
Contributor to anthologies, including Feminist Companion to Mythology, Pandora (London, England), 1992; Women/Writing/History, Batsford (London, England), 1992; Rethinking Sexual Harassment, Sage (London, England), 1994; Representing Dido, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1998; The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1999; Languages of Witchcraft, 2000; The Double Voice, Macmillan (London, England), 2000; Medea in Performance, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2000; Attending to Women in Early Modern England, University of Delaware Press, 2002; History and Theory, 2003; Shakespeare and Popular Culture, 2003; Early Girls, Ashgate (New York, NY), 2008; and Shakespeare and Oral Culture, Ashgate, 2008. Contributor to periodicals, including Baetyl, Cardozo Law Review, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Representations of the Self in Early Modern Britain, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, and Women and Writing.
Diane Purkiss is a fellow and tutor of English at Keble College, Oxford, and her research areas include the writings of John Milton, Renaissance drama, the English Civil War, and the supernatural in the early modern period. In addition to her academic work, which includes several books and numerous scholarly essays, Purkiss is one half of the pseudonymous Tobias Druitt, author of the "Corydon" fantasy novels. The other half of Tobias Druitt is Michael Dowling, Purkiss's son, who was eight years old when the first "Corydon" novel, Corydon and the Island of Monsters, was being written.
Based on characters from Greek mythology, Corydon and the Island of Monsters introduces readers to a young shepherd who is an outcast from his village because of a birth defect that has left him with a goat's hoof instead of one of his feet. Captured by pirates, Corydon is caged as a monster and exhibited as part of a traveling freak show. Together with Medusa, Lamia, Minotaur, Sphinx, and the Gorgon sisters, Corydon works to fulfill his destiny—to battle Perseus, Zeus, and a disjointed army of Greek heroes who are intent upon destroying all monsters—and learns the identity of his father along the way. "With all the elements of a true adventure story," Corydon and the Island of Monsters "will have wide appeal," predicted a Publishers Weekly critic, and in Booklist Krista Hutley noted that the "fascinating, well-rounded characters" make reading Corydon and the Island of Monsters "a treat for readers who enjoy viewing old stories from new vantage points." Purkiss's "witty, profoundly sapient take" on ancient myths "will leave readers impatient for the sequels," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor in discussing the first "Corydon" novel.
Using the Druitt pen name, Purkiss and Dowling continue the adventures of their goat-footed young hero in Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis and Corydon and the Siege of Troy. In the former, Corydon and his monstrous friends travel to the ill-fated Atlantis to rescue Minotaur, only to find that intrigue is rife in that culturally advanced city. When Troy is attacked by Akhilleus and his band of Olympian superheroes, Trojan prince Sikandar begs Corydon for help in Corydon and the Siege of Troy. According to a Kirkus Reviews writer, Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis features "ingeniously twisted mythology, punctuated by exciting, Odyssey-like encounters" set in the ancient world.
"Anyone who has ever thought that fairies are ‘tiresome little wingy thingies who are always good’ will be swiftly disabused of that notion," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic in a review of At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things. This scholarly work by Purkiss has since been republished as Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History. Backing up her history with scholarly research, Purkiss shows that fairies were once regarded with fear and dread: they were frightening beings from another world who could steal or kill children, abduct young men, cause illness or blindness, or rape human women. In the seventeenth century, their reputation shifted: people now regarded fairies as bringers of luck or wealth to those they favored. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, they were seen as pure, childlike beings that represented innocence and light. In the London Sunday Times, Lucy Hughes-Hallett called At the Bottom of the Garden "both splendidly scholarly and breezily accessible," and "a monstrous, magnificent fairy ride." In the Times, Michele Roberts praised it as "an elegantly written and witty book," and Sara Maitland wrote in the Spectator that Purkiss's work is "both illuminating and enormous fun."
In The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations Purkiss examines how witches have been regarded during different periods in history. Presenting records of witchcraft trials, she shows how some women used fantasies of witchcraft to feel more empowered in their daily lives. She also studies witches as depicted in the works of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and others, and shows how these writers not only drew upon popular images of witches, but also reshaped these images. According to Booklist critic Gilbert Taylor, Purkiss "effectively evokes an impressionistic experience of living through tumultuous times" in The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain, a work that draws on its author's broad expertise as a historian. In Library Journal Susanne Markgren also praised the book, dubbing it "a rich history [of a] … turbulent period" that contains "more detail, drama, and intrigue than many works of fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ariel, July, 1998, Wendy Schissel, review of The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations, p. 198.
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Krista Hutley, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 44; July 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witch-finders in the Birth of Modern Britain, p. 26.
Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, March, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 309.
Contemporary Review, spring, 1997, Chris Arthur, review of The Witch in History, p. 158; summer, 2007, review of The English Civil War, p. 258.
Eighteenth-Century Life, May, 1998, Michael Hunter, "Witchcraft and the Decline of Belief," p. 139.
Journal of Women's History, winter, 1999, Heather Lee Miller, review of The Witch in History, p. 232.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2006, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 39; December 15, 2006, review of Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis, p. 1266.
Library Journal, June 15, 2006, Susanne Markgren, review of The English Civil War, p. 84.
New York Review of Books, October 23, 1997, Alison Lurie, review of The Witch in History, p. 48.
Notes and Queries, September, 1993, Isobel Grundy, review of Women, Texts, and Histories: 1575-1760, p. 366.
Publishers Weekly, February 5, 2001, review of At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things, p. 78; February 1, 2006, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 90; May 15, 2006, review of The English Civil War, p. 63.
Renaissance Quarterly, summer, 1998, Brian P. Levack, review of The Witch in History, p. 655; fall, 2006, James Loxley, review of Literature, Gender, and Politics during the English Civil War, p. 982.
Review of English Studies, February, 1995, Jacqueline Pearson, review of Women, Texts, and Histories, p. 89.
School Librarian, spring, 2006, Alison Hurst, review of Corydon and the Siege of Troy, p. 36.
School Library Journal, March, 2006, Patricia D. Lothrop, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 220; March, 2007, Beth Wright, review of Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis, p. 202.
Sixteenth Century Journal, spring, 1994, Robert C. Evans, review of Women, Texts, and Histories, p. 210; winter, 1997, Kathryn A. Edwards, review of The Witch in History, p. 1433.
Spectator, January 6, 2001, Sara Maitland, review of Troublesome Things, p. 25.
Sunday Telegraph (London, England), December 17, 2000, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, "Fairies Could Be Dangerously, Seductively Beautiful, or Repulsively, Hairily Naked," p. 38; December 24, 2000, Richard Davenport-Hines, "The Tooth Fairy Had Fangs," p. 15.
Times (London, England), November 29, 2000, Michele Roberts, "Enchanting Visions of Fairyland," p. 14; January 20, 2001, "Fairies Don't Just Live at the Bottom of the Garden," p. 12.
Times Literary Supplement, June 22, 2001, Andrew Wawn, "Farewell Rewards and Fairies," p. 36.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), February 18, 2007, Mary Harris Russell, review of Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis, p. 7.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2006, Tracy Piombo, review of Corydon and the Island of Monsters, p. 58; April, 2007, Stacey Hayman, review of Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis, p. 64.
Keble College Oxford Web site,http://www.keble.ox.ac.uk/academics/ (October 13, 2008), "Dr. Diane Purkiss."
Tobias Druitt Home Page, http://www.tobiasdruitt.co.uk (October 15, 2006).