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The Great Romantic Reviews

The Great Romantic by Duncan Hamilton

The Great Romantic

Cricket and the golden age of Neville Cardus

Duncan Hamilton

4.38 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publication date: 4 Jul 2019
ISBN: 9781473661837

An intimate and revealing portrait of the revolutionary journalist who changed sports reporting forever.

  • The BooksellerEditor's Choice
4 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
12 Apr 2019

"(an) intimate and revealing portrait, by the two-time William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner, of a revolutionary journalist who changed sports journalism forever"

My late father was a great admirer of the cricket (and music) journalism of Neville Cardus, but barely anyone now seems to remember him. That should all change with this intimate and revealing portrait, by the two-time William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner, of a revolutionary journalist who changed sports journalism forever with his exquisite phrase-making, disdain for statistics, and penchant for literary and musical allusions. Cardus' mother was a prostitute, he never knew his father, and he received negligible education.


5 stars out of 5
Marcus Berkmann
8 Sep 2019

"Hamilton’s book is a marvel"

Forty years after his death, he is lucky in his remaining fans. Hamilton is a terrific cricket writer, whose biography of Harold Larwood, the England fast bowler caught up in the Bodyline scandal of 1932–3, is a work of great clarity and humanity. I’m not sure he could write a dull sentence if he tried... Hamilton’s book is a marvel. Within a vaguely chronological structure he wanders hither and thither, forward and back through time, with effortless elegance and confidence. There are no longueurs. He is a wonderfully wry, funny writer, apt to make you laugh out loud in public places.

5 stars out of 5
Roger Alton
1 Aug 2019

"[a] superb, elegaic portrait"

Duncan Hamilton is already a multiple award-winning sports writer, but it is hard to imagine he will write a better book than this superb, elegaic portrait of the sociable, feted, but ultimately unknowable, man who virtually invented modern sports writing.

4 stars out of 5
27 Jul 2019

"The interest never falters in Duncan Hamilton’s life of the colourful Guardian cricket correspondent Neville Cardus, who rose from poverty to invent literary sports reporting"

Instead, where Hamilton really scores is in his candid treatment of Cardus in the years after he won almost instant fame for his cricket writing (followed in due course by considerable acclaim for his music criticism, including teaching the English about the virtues of Mahler). This makes, for his loyal admirers, somewhat uncomfortable reading. Cardus took more than he gave in relation to the women of his life; his conversational tendencies became increasingly egocentric; the charged politics of the interwar period almost completely passed him by; and, going beyond a social inferiority complex – understandable in what was still a very hierarchical and class-based society – he seems to have craved establishment recognition and approval. Though a knighthood in 1967 was very acceptable, in cricketing terms recognition meant above all full membership of the MCC – which, grotesquely enough, was denied to him until 1972, the price of being born not only on the wrong side of the tracks, but to a real-life version of EM Forster’s Jacky Bast.