Saturday, 25 August 2012

englandsqueensand kings

Based on photo by Odejea

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Derwen Publishing (December 11, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1907084223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907084225
  • £6.99 / $10.99
Not so much ‘horrible’ as funny and beguiling, the potted histories that make up Peter Lemesurier’s Tall Tales of England’s Queens & Kings are immensely readable, and illustrated with copious cartoons. Irresistible to children of all ages, they recount in comic rhyme the lives and dubious deeds of 21 monarchs from Queen Boudicca (better known as Boadicea) to Queen Victoria, taking in such characters as King Canute, William the Conqueror, Richard III, Henry VIII and George III along the way. By turns provocative, informative, teasing, shocking and even (at times) mildly scatological, the book concludes with a ‘Truthfinder’ section to correct its various ‘deliberate mistakes’ (but not its undeliberate ones!), which young readers are challenged to try and spot for themselves.


Laugh out loud funny! These hilarious poems of fabulous facts and fiction are potted histories to read and read again that keep you laughing (and guessing!) long after you’ve read them. Hours of fun for children (if they can wrestle the book from their parents). From kings ‘plonked’ and ‘skewered’ to queens who can’t pass their ‘chariot driving test’, what’s not to love about this collection? The author has a terrific flair for creating historical rhyming verse in a format that is instantly engaging. I look forward to the sequel.  Daryl Snelling, bookseller 

In an age when English history is hardly taught in schools in the UK, let alone in other English speaking countries, this slim volume is likely to lift a corner of the dark curtain that covers the subject, and entice young minds once again to enjoy the (probably fictitious) accounts of Alfred burning the Cakes, or Canute ordering the tide back, and other anecdotes, whilst imbibing some worthwhile real historical facts. A nice psychologically grounded approach to making a potentially dull subject interesting to young minds.   David R. Hill, Emeritus Professor, University of Calgary 

Great verse! They would be good for schools… contain Hilaire Belloc touches. Tom Cox, former oil executive 

Quite wonderful!   Virginia Lloyd-Davies, former Publicity Officer to the Findhorn Foundation




King Canute was a Dane, or Jute,

a conquering king of high repute

less famed for having lived and died

than for a tale about the tide…

Tall, fair and handsome, with his fleet

he bludgeoned England to defeat

with Danish ships and Danish men

attacking once, twice, once again.

Denmark he ruled, and Norway too:

He never had enough to do.

He fought King Edmund Ironside

until, worn out, the poor man died.

He killed each foe and taxed each friend,

he doled out money without end,

spent thousands on a trip to Rome,

then taxed them more when he got home.

A Christian king, he was devout –

of that his subjects had no doubt.

He ruled them with an iron rod

until they placed him next to God.

Because he voyaged ceaselessly

to his possessions oversea,

his courtiers, seeing him wafted thither,

assumed he could control the weather.

They knew the nine-and-eightieth Psalm:

‘You rule the sea, its waves You calm,’

so thought that he could walk on water.

He chuckled when he told his daughter,

then laughed and roared, then roared and laughed:

‘Hee! Hee!’ he cried, ‘They must be daft!’

‘The wind and waves obey you, Sire,’

(they said, pushing the stakes still higher).

‘OK,’ he said, ‘let’s test your boast.

Remove my throne down to the coast.’

They took it there and plonked it down

and sat him on it in his crown,

stood back to see what he would say –

then, when the tide came, ran away.

‘Go back, you tide!’ he roared. ‘Avast!’

but still the water came in fast.

‘Away, I say! Stop rising… please!’

but soon the sea had reached his knees.

At length his courtiers, lest he drown,

dragged him ashore and dried him down

and, seeing the error of their ways,

gave up their endless shouts of praise.

Much drier now, he smirked with glee –

and died at length at Shaftesbury.

His bones (still dry) they would inter
in the cathedral, Winchester.



KING CANUTE (born 995-ish, died 1035)

Knut II, powerful king of Denmark and Norway, who invaded England and made Winchester his capital

Jute                                                                      Perhaps!
Telling his daughter about walking on water          Probably not true
Ordering back the tide                                         Probably not true


The book is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets, including your local bookshop (in the UK, try your nearest castle shop). Just click on the links below, or at the top of the RH column -->

[Plans to publish the companion volume, Tall Tales of Ancient Queens and Kings, are currently on hold: watch this space for further announcements...]