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Alfred Duggan (1903 - 1964) was an English historian, archeologist and best-selling historical novelist during the 1950s. Although he was raised in England, Duggan was born Alfred Leo Duggan in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a family of wealthy landowners of Irish descent. His family moved to England when he was two years old. His father Alfredo Hubert Duggan, a third-generation Irish Argentinian, was appointed in 1905 to the Argentine Legation in London, and died in 1915. In 1917, his mother, the Alabama-born Grace Elvira Hinds, daughter of the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, became the second wife of Lord Curzon, the former Viceroy of India. Duggan and his brother Hubert (1904-1943) were raised in England at Curzon's seats, and were educated at Eton where they became acquainted with Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh.[1]

His novels are known for being grounded on meticulous historical research. He also wrote some excellent popular histories of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. Knight With Armour was his first novel, written in 1946. He visited practically every place and battlefield described in the book, because he was also an archeologist, having worked on excavations in Istanbul during the 1930s.



Unlike most historical novelists, he does not idealise his subjects. A few of the characters are noble, some rather nasty, a lot mixed in their motives. Some of the novels can be seen as funny, in a dry and noirish style.

Most of the stories are told from the viewpoint of the ruling class, sometimes the ruler and sometimes a knight or noble. In English history, his novels show a general approval of the Norman conquest.




  • Knight with Armour (1950). The First Crusade, from the viewpoint of a rather ordinary knight.
  • Conscience of the King (1951). A speculative life of Cerdic, the founder of Wessex.
  • The Little Emperors (1951). A succession of coups in late-Roman Britain.
  • Lady for Ransom (1953). Norman mercenaries from the West serving the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century.
  • Leopards and Lilies (1954) A noblewoman seeking her own advantage in the dangerous politics of England under King John
  • God and My Right (1955). The life of Thomas a' Becket.
  • Winter Quarters (1956). Two Gauls in the time of Julius Caesar. One of them is under a curse from the Mother Goddess, whose worship he finds throughout the Roman world.
  • Three's Company (1958) the career of Lepidus, triumvir with Octavian and Marcus Antonius after the death of Julius Caesar.
  • Founding Fathers, U.S. title, Children of the Wolf (1959). Romulus and the founding of Rome.
  • The Cunning of the Dove (1960). The career of Edward the Confessor, told by one of his servants.
  • The King of Athelney, U.S. title, The Right Line of Cerdic (1961). The life of Alfred the Great.
  • Lord Geoffrey's Fancy (1962). Life in one of the short-lived Crusader kingdoms in Greece, told by an ordinary knight
  • Elephants and Castles, U.S. title, Besieger of Cities (1963). The life of Demetrius I of Macedon, one of the Successors after the death of Alexander the Great.
  • Family Favourites (1963). An ordinary Roman soldier witnesses the reign of Emperor Elagabalus
  • Count Bohemond (1964). Another account of the First Crusade, this time from the viewpoint of Bohemond , one of its leaders

Non fiction

  • Thomas Becket of Canterbury (1952)
  • Julius Caesar: A Great Life in Brief (1955)
  • My Life for My Sheep: Thomas a Becket (1955)
  • He Died Old: Mithradates Eupator, King of Pontus (1958)
  • Devil's Brood: The Angevin Family (1957)
  • Look at Castles (1960). For young readers.
  • The Castle Book (1961)
  • Look At Churches (1961)
  • Growing Up in Thirteenth Century England (1962)
  • The Story of the Crusades 1097-1291 (1963)
  • The Romans (1965). For young readers.
  • Growing up with the Norman Conquest (1965)
  • The Falcon And the Dove: A Life of Thomas Becket of Canterbury (1971)


  1. ^ John Derbyshire "Alfred Duggan's Past" New Criterion February 2005.

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