Piers Brendon

Lords of the Prairie 24

Prairie Fever: How British Aristocrats Staked a Claim to the American West


Young Americans were not alone in responding to the call of the Wild West. As Peter Pagnamenta shows in this ground-breaking book, Queen Victoria’s subjects also succumbed to the allure of the new frontier, and British grandees arrived in their hundreds to sample the delights of the open range. They were inspired by romantic notions of the noble savage in an Arcadian setting, as popularised by authors such as Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving and Mayne Reid. The last of these scored a huge success with his mid-century blood-and-thunder novel The Scalp Hunters, in which the hero describes thrilling gallops by day, campfire yarns by night and the experience of imbibing ‘a portion of the divine essence that lives … in those vast solitudes’. He had caught ‘prairie fever’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,