Wroe, Ann

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Wroe, Ann

PERSONAL:

Married; children: three sons. Education: Oxford University, Ph.D., 1975.

ADDRESSES:

Home—London, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and journalist. BBC World Service, London, England, French and Italian politics reporter, 1975; Economist, London, England, reporter, 1976-88, books and arts editor, 1988-92, United States editor, 1992-2000, special features editor, briefings and obituaries editor, 2003—.

WRITINGS:

Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, I.B. Tauris (New York, NY), 1991.

A Fool and His Money: Life in a Partitioned Town in Fourteenth-Century France, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1995.

Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man, Vintage (London, England), 2000, also published as Pontius Pilate, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2000.

Perkin: A Story of Deception, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 2003, also published as The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Writes a monthly column for the Tablet. Contributor to Daily Telegraph.

SIDELIGHTS:

Ann Wroe is a writer and a journalist. After completing her doctoral studies at Oxford University in the mid-1970s, Wroe began working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service. She quickly moved to the Economist, and rose in rank through the years, serving as editor for a number of different divisions of the periodical.

Wroe published her first book, Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, in 1991. The book opens up the Iran-Contra Affair, an event that left many Americans either confused or apathetic about the ordeal. For her part, Wroe finds fault with a number of high-ranking officials and indicates that Ronald Reagan should have been impeached for his role in the immoral political climate of his administration. Clifford Klauss, writing in the New York Times Book Review, commented that "Wroe does succeed in bringing wit to her subject, and her best writing, describing the plain wackiness of the Reagan White House's shenanigans, has a P.J. O'Rourke flavor. She complains that the American public, if it thinks about the Iran-contra affair at all, remembers it only in terms of Mr. North's testimony." Klauss added: "Perhaps Ms. Wroe's good humor can help perk up interest in this scandal." In an Economist review, Anthony King noted that Wroe's "treatment throughout is both incisive and gentle; it is only a pity that, having exposed the flaws and dangers of the Iran-contra moral code, she did not go on to expound her preferred alternative."

Wroe's second book, A Fool and His Money: Life in a Partitioned Town in Fourteenth-Century France, was published in 1995. The book looks into life in the southwestern French town of Rodez during the Hundred Years War. She focuses on the British and French halves of the city and how the sociocultural differences split the town more so than a city wall. Phoebe-Lou Adams, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, remarked that the author "unraveled a complicated civic mess, and recovered a number of violent or amusing episodes," adding that it was clear that Wroe "enjoyed doing it, and shares her pleasure with the reader in accomplished prose." Roz Kaveney, writing in the New Statesman & Society, noted that A Fool and His Money is both "entertaining" and "insightful," but found it "slightly meretricious." Kaveney observed that "Wroe is so busy constructing her own narrative from the data in the documents that she has somehow forgotten to think about things she might have found in other books." Sue Gaisford, writing in the Economist, found Wroe's book "beautifully written." Gaisford added that "Wroe's elegant scrutiny of a few weeks in the life of Rodez breathes the excitement of history under a microscope."

In 2000 Wroe published Pontius Pilate, which was published in England as Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man. Wroe examines the life of Pontius Pilate and indicates that he was a comparatively poor governor of the Roman province of Judea who made many errors and few friends in the process before slipping into obscurity. George Rafael, writing on Salon.com, called the book "superb." Rafael added: "Wroe seeks most of her clues in the New Testament, however, combing lines for hidden meanings and patterns, which coalesce with her classical and European findings into an elaborate mosaic." Rob Cline, writing on Bookreporter.com, commented that joining "exhaustive research with a talent for teasing out the nuances of cross-cultural historical encounters, Ann Wroe has produced an impressive and moving portrait of one of the Bible's pivotal players." Cline concluded that "Wroe's researching skills alone would have been enough to recommend this book. Her talent for bringing together myth and speculation to create a coherent, if provisional picture, of a man and his times makes Pontius Pilate a most impressive work, indeed." Lauren Winner, writing in Christianity Today, described Wroe's account as an "elegantly written, engrossing study of Pilate." After commenting on the scarce amount of information available on Pilate and the times, Winner wrote that "Wroe's valiant attempts to reconstruct Pilate's life, therefore, are a little suspect. But her study of how Pilate has been remembered and imagined by writers, artists, and theologians for the last two millennia is striking."

In 2003 Wroe published The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England, which was published in England as Perkin: A Story of Deception. Wroe outlines the claims of Perkin Warbeck, an Englishman who cleverly attempted to claim the throne by identifying himself as one of the previously thought-dead sons of Edward IV. He had the support of both lesser royalty and commoners and led them, albeit unsuccessfully, against Henry VII. Lucy Moore, writing in the New Statesman, noted that "Wroe challenges every scrap of evidence and every assumption about the story she is telling." The same contributor concluded: "The germ of this book was her childhood obsession with Perkin Warbeck's story and she has triumphantly succeeded in giving him if not an identity, then a world to inhabit, infused with understanding and humanity. This is one of the best books that I have read on the Middle Ages."

In 2007 Wroe published Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself. Wroe examines the metaphysics of Shelley's poetry, not focusing primarily, like many other books on the writer, on his radical politics. She treats the metaphysics as the driving force behind his poetry, whereas external events in his life are analyzed as secondary in importance in influencing his writing. A contributor to the London Times stated: "There is only one danger in Wroe's method. The dangers of interpreting the poetry in terms of the life are often stated. There may be equivalent dangers in explaining the life in terms of the poetry. What are strengths in the poetry may become weaknesses in the person. Yet in the end Being Shelley becomes a mirror of the poet himself—whimsical, various, subtle and iridescent and evanescent. That is, no doubt, the book that Wroe proposed to write. And she has succeeded. Shelley himself, of course, remains elusive. He is always out of sight." A contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald remarked that "Wroe has written a new kind of biography, one that attempts to tell the story of Percy Shelley ‘from the inside out’," adding that in this account, "the longstanding priorities of literary biography have been neatly reversed." The contributor mentioned: "How the reader responds to this approach will rather depend on his or her view of Shelley…. In one sense, Wroe (who often writes beautifully) is a victim of her own success. Shelley had a weakness for the unmoored image and Wroe's style dutifully" mimics it. A reviewer contributing to the London Times called the account both "fascinating" and "experimental." The same contributor noted of Wroe's book that "because she writes thematically, not chronologically, it would be as well to come to this book with some knowledge of Shelley's life. This is an account, instead, of his inner self, a voyage into the mind that wrote the poetry and struggled with ideas, some mad, some sane, all interesting."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, June 4, 2001, James Martin, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 2.

Atlantic Monthly, December, 1995, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of A Fool and His Money: Life in a Partitioned Town in Fourteenth-Century France, p. 136; November, 2007, review of Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself, p. 154.

Bible Review, February, 2001, Bruce Chilton, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 40.

Biography, fall, 2000, T.F. Rigelhof, review of Pontius Pilate.

Booklist, February 15, 2000, Jay Freeman, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 1055; October 1, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England, p. 297; May 15, 2007, Bryce Christensen, review of Being Shelley, p. 15.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September, 2000, P.K. Moser, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 150.

Christian Century, November 22, 2000, S. Mark Heim, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 1219.

Christianity Today, December 4, 2000, Lauren Winner, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 87.

Contemporary Review, April, 2000, review of Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man, p. 219; August, 2003, review of Perkin: A Story of Deception, p. 123.

Economist, June 22, 1991, Anthony King, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, p. 95; September 16, 1995, Sue Gaisford, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 100; September 16, 1995, Sue Gaisford, "Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England, 450-1500," p. 100; April 10, 1999, Sue Gaisford, review of Pilate, p. 6; April 10, 1999, review of Pilate, p. 6; December 6, 2003, review of The Perfect Prince, p. 78.

First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, August, 2000, Charlotte Allen, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 43.

Insight on the News, February 10, 1992, Peter Jay, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of The Perfect Prince, p. 1170; May 15, 2007, review of Being Shelley.

Library Journal, September 1, 1991, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, p. 214; December, 1995, Bennett D. Hill, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 130; February 1, 2000, David Bourquin, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 95; January, 2001, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 56; October 1, 2003, Isabel Coates, review of The Perfect Prince, p. 98; June 1, 2007, T.L. Cooksey, review of Being Shelley, p. 118.

National Review, May 1, 2000, Andrew Sullivan, "Pilate's Truth," p. 51.

New Camden Journal, June 5, 2003, review of Perkin.

New Statesman, March 24, 2003, Lucy Moore, review of Perkin, p. 51; December 1, 2003, review of Perkin, p. 44.

New Statesman & Society, November 3, 1995, Roz Kaveney, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 48.

New Yorker, August 27, 2007, Adam Kirsch, review of Being Shelley, p. 85.

New York Review of Books, September 21, 2000, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 12.

New York Times Book Review, June 29, 1997, Clifford Krauss, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair; December 7, 2003, Gerard Kilroy, review of The Perfect Prince, p. 6.

Orbis, spring, 1992, Adam Garfinkle, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair.

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 1995, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 38; September 8, 2003, review of The Perfect Prince, p. 65.

Sojourners Magazine, May, 2001, Jim Wallis, review of Pontius Pilate, p. 55.

Spectator, August 26, 1995, Gillian Tindall, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 31; March 13, 1999, Julia Blackburn, review of Pilate, p. 35; November 20, 1999, review of Pilate, p. 46; April 12, 2003, Eric Christiansen, review of Perkin, p. 41; July 7, 2007, review of Being Shelley.

Sydney Morning Herald, October 31, 2007, review of Being Shelley.

Times (London, England), June 23, 2007, Peter Ackroyd, review of Being Shelley; July 8, 2007, Peter Ackroyd, review of Being Shelley.

Times Educational Supplement, March 26, 1999, David Self, review of Pilate, p. 10.

Times Literary Supplement, October 13, 1995, review of A Fool and His Money, p. 37; April 11, 2003, Simon Walker, review of Perkin, p. 28; July 20, 2007, Michael O'Neill, review of Being Shelley, p. 10.

World Today, October, 1991, Geoffrey Smith, review of Lives, Lies, and the Iran-Contra Affair, p. 181.

ONLINE

Biographers Club,http://www.biographersclub.co.uk/ (February 4, 2008), author profile.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 4, 2008), Rob Cline, review of Pontius Pilate.

Christianity Today,http://www.christianitytoday.com/ (February 4, 2008), Lauren Winner, review of Pontius Pilate.

Economist Online,http://www.economist.com/ (February 4, 2008), author profile.

Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (April 21, 2000), George Rafael, review of Pontius Pilate.