Jonathan Mirsky

Song of Exile

Emperor Huizong


Harvard University Press 661pp £30 order from our bookshop

I can’t decide which lines from Richard II best reflect the melancholy story of the Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong (1082–1135): ‘And tell sad stories of the death of kings’ or ‘my large kingdom for a little grave,/A little little grave, an obscure grave’. The University of Washington’s Patricia Ebrey, a master historian of this period with an acute sense of the poignant and tragic, shows us, in this first English-language biography of Huizong, one of the most brilliantly cultured monarchs ever to have lived, and recounts his miserable end.

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