Adrian Tinniswood

Imperfect Enjoyment

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

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It is hard to love John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester: hard to make a hero out of a writer of obscene verse, a coward and a drunk who, in the course of his short life, betrayed everyone around him – wife, family, friends, mistresses. But the fact that, in Samuel Johnson’s words, ‘he lived worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and his health in lavish voluptuousness’ does make for a great story. Alexander Larman’s Blazing Star, billed by his publisher as ‘the first truly comprehensive biography of Rochester’, has a fair stab at telling it. 

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