Blazing Star
Alexander Larman

Blazing Star

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.  

Book Details:

  • Author: Alexander Larman
  • Published Year: 2014
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Head of Zeus

Alexander Larman

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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Book Reviews

  • "The most comprehensive portrait of Rochester yet…Larman paints a vivid portrait of the wild society of Restoration London."
    Daily Mail ‘Book of the Week’
  • "A dazzling debut."
    Ian Kelly, author of Casanova
  • "A robust and rousing account."
    Independent on Sunday
  • "Insightful and illuminating…engagingly partisan and elegantly informative."
    Matthew Dennison, The Times
  • "The racy tale of Rochester is told in scholarly but lively detail by Alex Larman in a beautifully written first book…a glorious celebration.."
    Daily Express
  • "Informative and enlightening…Larman is clearly charmed by his subject."
    Sunday Times
  • "A very good, assiduously researched and well written book…a very accomplished debut."
    Scotland on Sunday
  • "Splendidly entertaining…a witty and elegant biography."
    Dan Jones, Mail on Sunday
  • "A worthy, well-researched addition to Rochester scholarship."
    Ian Thomson, The Observer
  • "Honourably moving."
    Irish Times
  • "Compelling…it is cheering to see an avowedly populist book about a writer too often confined to the seminar room."
  • "A great story."
    Adrian Tinniswood, Literary Review