The life of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, was one short in duration but long on scandal. His misdeeds included the abduction of his future wife, regular banishment from the Restoration court and the creation of some of the most explicit verse in English literature. He died at syphilis, at the age of thirty-three, having ‘swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls’. He has been remembered by posterity as one of the wickedest men who ever lived.
This legendary libertine, however, co-exists with another Rochester, who has seldom received his due. A naval officer who served his country with courage; a devoted (if inconstant) husband and father; a witty and loyal friend; and a poet of deep intellectual curiosity at the heart of a cultural golden age.
Alexander Larman explores not only the life, legacy and contradictions of a remarkable and complex man, but also paints a vivid portrait of an era rich in literary achievement – as well as hard living and strong wine.
Blazing Star was awarded the 2012 Elizabeth Longford grant by the Society of Authors.
Alexander Larman is an author and journalist. His most recent book, The Crown in Crisis (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2020) is a revelatory history of the abdication saga, using new and previously unknown material to tell the thrilling untold story of the political and legal machinations that led to Edward VIII’s renunciation of the throne.
His previous books include Byron’s Women (Head of Zeus, 2016), an ‘anti-biography’ of the famous poet that focused on nine of the key women in his life, Restoration (Head of Zeus, 2016), a social and narrative history of the year 1...
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