Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors


“An extraordinary book . . . Peter Ackroyd is arguably the most talented and prolific writer working in Britain today.” ―Daily Express (UK)

In Foundation, acclaimed historian Peter Ackroyd tells the epic story of England itself. He takes us from the primeval forests of England’s prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He describes the successive waves of invaders who made England English, despite being themselves Roman, Viking, Saxon, or Norman French.

With his extraordinary skill for evoking time and place and his acute eye for the telling detail, Ackroyd recounts the story of warring kings, of civil strife, and foreign wars. But he also gives us a vivid sense of how England’s early people lived: the homes they built, the clothes they wore, the food they ate, even the jokes they told. All are brought to life in this history of England through the narrative mastery of one of Britain’s finest writers.


Editorial Review

Peter Ackroyd’s ‘Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors’ is a sweeping historical account of the island nation’s evolution from prehistoric times to the end of the Plantagenet dynasty. Ackroyd, an accomplished British author and historian, is no stranger to exploring the intricacies of English history, and his latest work is a testament to his skill in weaving together disparate threads of historical narrative to form a cohesive and engaging whole.

The book’s opening chapters examine the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles, charting their movements and interactions with the landscape. Ackroyd’s prose is measured and informative, and he manages to convey a sense of the evolving cultural and societal norms of these ancient peoples without resorting to conjecture or speculation.

As the book progresses, Ackroyd delves into the various invasions and conquests that shaped the island’s destiny, from the Roman occupation to the arrival of the Saxons, the Vikings, and the Normans. Each period receives careful attention, and Ackroyd’s focus on the social and economic impact of these upheavals adds nuance and depth to the historical record.

One of the book’s most engaging sections is its coverage of the Plantagenet dynasty, which ruled England for over three centuries. Ackroyd’s descriptions of the personalities and politics of the time are vivid and evocative, and he is equally comfortable delving into the military campaigns and religious conflicts of the era. His use of primary sources, including letters, diaries, and court records, adds a sense of immediacy and authenticity to the narrative.

Throughout ‘Foundation,’ Ackroyd maintains a sense of narrative momentum that propels the reader forward through the centuries. His writing is lively and accessible, and he is able to explain complex historical concepts and events in a way that is both informative and engaging. Additionally, his use of anecdotes and personal stories, such as the fate of King Harold’s mistress or the exploits of the knight Sir John Chandos, adds color and texture to the text.

Overall, Peter Ackroyd’s ‘Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors’ is an impressive achievement. The book is a comprehensive and well-researched account of England’s past, told with clarity, intelligence, and wit. Ackroyd’s love of history shines through on every page, and his ability to bring the past to life is sure to delight both casual readers and serious students of history.


Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors by Peter Ackroyd
Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors by Peter Ackroyd
Genre: Non-fiction history
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.5 stars
Publication Date: 10th September 2013
ISBN13: 978-1250037558


Author: Kevin Madigan

Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd is an English author, biographer, and historian, born on October 5, 1949, in London, England. He attended Clare College, Cambridge, where he received a degree in English literature. Ackroyd has written extensively on a variety of subjects, including poetry, fiction, biography, and history. He is perhaps best known for his historical works, which include ‘London: The Biography,’ ‘Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination,’ and ‘Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors.’ Ackroyd’s works have earned numerous awards and accolades, including the Somerset Maugham Award, the Whitbread Biography Award, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 2003, he was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to literature. Ackroyd continues to write and publish books, and he is regarded as one of England’s most important contemporary writers.



  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, January 21). Peter Ackroyd. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.

  • Ackroyd, P. (2021). Peter Ackroyd – Literature.

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