Richard Barber

Atishoo, Atishoo

The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles


The Black Death is one of the best-known landmarks of medieval history, and has already been the subject of numerous histories in many languages. It is a dramatic and dreadful episode, the stuff of nightmares: an unknown and devastating disease arrives from the East and spreads relentlessly across western Europe, beginning in a Genoese trading post in the Crimea. Italy and France succumb to it, and by the time it reaches England, its full horror is already known and fearfully anticipated. The rudimentary medicine of the time is powerless against it, and it reaches every corner of the British Isles before it finally fades away.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,