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God's Architect
  • Published: 29 September 2008
  • ISBN: 9780141911670
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 624

God's Architect

Pugin And The Building Of Romantic Britain



A brilliant debut biography of the great architect and designer, the inventor of the Gothic Revival in England, and now revealed for the first time as the designer of Big Ben and much of the Houses of Parliament.

Pugin was one of Britain's greatest architects and his short career one of the most dramatic in architectural history. Born in 1812, the son of the soi-disant Comte de Pugin, at 15 Pugin was working for King George IV at Windsor Castle. By the time he was 21 he had been shipwrecked, bankrupted and widowed. Nineteen years later he died, insane and disillusioned, having changed the face and the mind of British architecture.

Pugin's bohemian early career as an antique dealer and scenery designer at Covent Garden came to a sudden end with a series of devastating bereavements, including the loss of his first wife in childbirth. In the aftermath he formed a vision of Gothic architecture that was both romantic and deeply religious. He became a Catholic and in 1836 published Contrasts, the first architectural manifesto. It called on the 19th century to reform its cities if it wanted to save its soul.

Once launched, Pugin's career was torrential. Before he was 30 he had designed 22 churches, three cathedrals, half a dozen extraordinary houses and a Cistercian monastery. For eight years he worked with Charles Barry on the Palace of Westminster creating its sumptuous interiors, the House of Lords and the clock 'Big Ben' that became one of Britain's most famous landmarks. He was the first architect-designer to cater for the middle-classes, producing everything from plant pots to wallpaper and early flat-pack furniture.

God's Architect is the first full modern biography of this extraordinary figure. It draws on thousands of unpublished letters and drawings to recreate his life and work as architect, propagandist and romantic artist as well as the turbulent story of his three marriages, the bitterness of his last years and his sudden death at 40. It is the debut of a remarkable historian and biographer.

  • Published: 29 September 2008
  • ISBN: 9780141911670
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 624

About the author

Rosemary Hill

Rosemary Hill is a writer and historian and a trustee of the Victorian Society. She has published widely on 19th and 20th century cultural history and sits on the editorial board of the London Review of Books. From 2004-05 she was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. She is the author of God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (2007).

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