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The Professor and the Parson: A Story of Desire, Deceit and Defrocking

Adam Sisman



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06 February 2020
Biography; True crime; Hoaxes & deceptions
'I embarrassed myself by uncontrollable guffaws ... This is a truly wonderful story' - A. N. Wilson, Spectator 'A white-knuckle roller-coaster ride of fibs and frauds' - Sunday Telegraph 'An utterly mad, and wholly delightful story of chicanery and fantasy' - Simon Winchester One day in November 1958, the celebrated historian Hugh Trevor-Roper received a curious letter. It was an appeal for help, written on behalf of a student at Magdalen College, with the unlikely claim that he was being persecuted by the Bishop of Oxford. Curiosity piqued, Trevor-Roper agreed to a meeting. It was to be his first encounter with Robert Parkin Peters: plagiarist, bigamist, fraudulent priest and impostor extraordinaire. The Professor and the Parson traces the strange career of one of Britain's most eccentric criminals. Motivated not by money but by a desire for prestige, Peters' lied, stole and cheated his way to academic positions and religious posts from Cambridge to New York, Singapore and South Africa. Frequently deported, and even more frequently discovered, his trail of destruction included seven marriages (three of which were bigamous), an investigation by the FBI and a disastrous appearance on Mastermind.

Based on Trevor-Roper's own detailed 'file on Peters', The Professor and the Parson is a witty and charming account of eccentricity, extraordinary narcissism and a life as wild and unlikely as any in fiction.
By:   Adam Sisman
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 14mm
Weight:   204g
ISBN:   9781788162128
ISBN 10:   1788162129
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   06 February 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Adam Sisman is the author of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and the biographer of John Le Carre, A. J. P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper. Among his other works are two volumes of letters by Patrick Leigh Fermor. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of the University of St Andrews.

Reviews for The Professor and the Parson: A Story of Desire, Deceit and Defrocking

A twisty, tricksy biography ... a thorough and thoroughly entertaining reconstruction of the life and lies of Robert Peters. Suspend your disbelief ... The Professor and the Parson would make a fine TV series along the lines of A Very English Scandal. Russell T Davies, if you're reading, this stuff is gold. -- Laura Freeman * The Times * A lively, well-written story of skulduggery -- Rosamund Urwin * Sunday Times * [A] roller-coaster ride of fibs and frauds ... To say of a book that, once you start reading it, you cannot stop, is always a cliche and often an exaggeration. Yet it really was my experience with this one. Various chores were put off and a meal skipped as I kept turning the pages. -- Noel Malcolm * Sunday Telegraph * Sisman's deadpan tone heightens [Peters'] comic effects. Often while reading his book in a public place I embarrassed myself by uncontrollable guffaws ... This is a truly wonderful story. -- A. N. Wilson * Spectator * The Professor and the Parson is a fantastic read and fully deserves to be among everyone's books of the year. It is full of wonderful stories and splendidly comic moments. It is also beautifully written. -- William Whyte * Literary Review * Astonishing ... fascinating, eye-opening * Emerald Street * A tortuous, intriguing and barely believable story, which sheds a fierce but comic spotlight on the ineptitude, gullibility and naivety of countless senior prelates and academics who were taken in by a consummate and unrepentant charlatan ... a dizzy and diverting read -- Rosemary Goring * Herald Scotland * Witty, impressive and captivatingly readable ... incredibly well researched ... a real achievement. It's also great fun. I laughed out loud ... one day this tale will make a fantastic BBC adaptation or even film. Think A Very English Scandal, but with clerical collars. * History Today * I was captivated from start to finish by this utterly mad, and wholly delightful story of chicanery and fantasy, and which involves a man who relentlessly duped our most cherished institutions of godly pursuit and higher learning. Plus I learned how to defrock a priest, always good to have on hand in these troubling times. * Simon Winchester * A delightful, delicious tale from the Hugh Trevor-Roper archive of Oxford skulduggery. Robert Parkin Peters is one of the oddest, most compulsive conmen ever, longing - and spectacularly failing - to achieve prominence in academia and the Church. * Harry Mount *

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