What goes on in other people’s minds? The idea of writing about what we can never know – the interior lives of others – was born in the fertile hybrid culture of 12th-century England and made possible by the pursuit of romantic love.
From ancient Greece to the Second World War, from the papacy to the Antichrist, from Byzantium to China and the story of the Jewish people, historians select their favourite books of the past year.
Despite its popularity in France, the political memoir took a while to get going in Britain. It was Lord Clarendon’s epic attempt to make sense of the turbulent 17th century that slowly set the ball rolling.
Along with Robin Hood, the romantic highwayman is one of the great myths of English outlawry. But the model for this most gallant of rogues was a Frenchman name Claude Duval, who carried out audacious robberies with a touch of Parisian flair.