“It is extraordinarily alive … The book remains a clear and definite book of our epoch, not to be swept aside.” – D.H. Lawrence
“One of the most extraordinary achievements in English literature.” – A.J.A. Symons
“Frederick Rolfe alias Baron Corvo is certainly one of the most fascinating of those various literary curiosities of England.” – Saturday Review
Frederick William Rolfe, who styled himself “Baron Corvo” and who published under the slightly misleading abbreviation “Fr. Rolfe”, is one of the most brilliant and eccentric geniuses of English fiction. Rejected for the priesthood, betrayed and deceived by all those he considered his friends, and reduced to abject poverty, he turned to writing, and of his many unusual works, Hadrian the Seventh – part fantasy, part autobiography, and partly a savage attack on his enemies – remains his greatest achievement.
In Hadrian the Seventh, George Arthur Rose, a thinly disguised portrait of Rolfe himself, is a writer who lives in squalor and reflects bitterly on the twenty years that have passed since he was rejected for the Catholic priesthood. When the current Pope dies and the conclave of cardinals is unable to choose a successor, a bizarre sequence of events ends in the obscure Englishman Rose being elected Pope. Taking his new papal role in stride, he chooses the name Hadrian VII and sets out to change the world, reforming the Vatican and selling off its treasures to help the poor, brokering peace among the nations to prevent a world war, and restoring the Church to its former glory. But not everyone shares Hadrian’s vision, and powerful enemies are determined to bring about his downfall …
By turns hilarious and tragic, Hadrian the Seventh is one of the strangest and most original novels ever written, a minor classic of English literature. This is the first ever e-book edition of the novel and includes the unabridged text, carefully prepared from the original edition. Scholarly editions of Rolfe’s classics Stories Toto Told Me and Hubert’s Arthur are also available from Valancourt Books.