Lord Elgin and the Marbles

Lord Elgin and the Marbles


By (author) William St. Clair

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  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Format: Paperback | 434 pages
  • Dimensions: 139mm x 216mm x 36mm | 563g
  • Publication date: 13 August 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0192880535
  • ISBN 13: 9780192880536
  • Edition: 3, Revised
  • Edition statement: 3rd Revised edition
  • Illustrations note: 8 pp black and white plates, 1 line illustration, 1 map
  • Sales rank: 1,329,848

Product description

'The British say they have saved the Marbles. Well, thank you very much. Now give them back.' Melina Mercouri, actress and politician Ever since the sculptures from the Parthenon arrived in England at the beginning of the last century, they have caused controversy. Based on a detailed study of both original records and recent discoveries, Lord Elgin and the Marbles is the authoritative historical account of the extraordinary circumstances in which the Elgin Marbles were acquired, of the tremendous impact which they made on modern appreciation of Greek art, and of the bitter reaction of Napoleon, Byron, and many others to their appropriation. In the last chapters of this book, William St. Clair now adds further fuel to the controversy by revealing for the first time some disturbing details about the treatment of the Marbles while in the British Museum's care, and of the British Museum's response to public concerns about this important cultural artefact.

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Author information

William St. Clair is the author of That Greece Might Still be Free, awarded the Heinemann prize by the Royal Society of Literature. He is also a leading scholar of Byron and Shelley and was awarded the Time Life prize and Macmillan silver pen for his The Godwins and the Shelleys in 1989. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, TLS and other journals, and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

Review quote

a measured, well-founded, wise, witty, and intensely interesting vindication. TLS

Editorial reviews

This ground-breaking book examines the dubious circumstances in which the Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon at the beginning of the last century and also shows how decisively their acquisition and display by the British Museum in London enhanced the appreciation of Greek art all over Europe. There is a darker side to this story however; using official records previously withheld from the public the author reveals the irreparable damage done to the Marbles in the 1930s while in the care of the Museum and the subsequent attempts of the Museum authorities to cover up the extent of the damage, revelations that are bound to add fuel to the debate about whether the Marbles should be returned to Greece. (Kirkus UK)

Table of contents

1. An Embassy is Arranged ; 2. Great Events in the Levant ; 3. The Voyage Out ; 4. Reception at Constantinople ; 5. The Smith Brothers ; 6. Work Begins at Athens ; 7. In Search of Ancient Manuscripts ; 8. The Conquest of Egypt and its Results ; 9. The Firman ; 10. 'The Last Poor Plunder from a Bleeding Land' ; 11. Prisoner of War ; 12. Lusieri on His Own, 1803-1806 ; 13. Homecoming ; 14. The Second Collection ; 15. Artists and Dilettanti ; 16. Elgin Offers His First Collection to the Government ; 17. Poets and Travellers ; 18. Later Years in Greece ; 19. Lord Elgin Tries Again ; 20. Tweddell J. and Tweddell R. ; 21. The Fate of the Manuscripts ; 22. The Marbles are Sold ; 23. Last Days ; 24. Epilogue ; Note on the Principal Sources ; Select Bibliography ; Notes ; Index