York Mysteries Revealed by Revd
Neville Barker Cryer, Lewis Masonic
(01455 254450), £16.95.
If you enjoy a good mystery, then the
origins of Freemasonry are a good place to
start, steeped as it is in controversy, not least
the claim that the first Lodge was held in the
crypt of York Minster in ad926 under a
Charter from King Athelstan.
The origins of the “Grand Lodge of
All-England” set up at York and the
“York Rite” have long fascinated Masons,
and the Revd Neville Barker Cryer, a highly
respected Masonic scholar, has produced
a very substantial scholarly work in
York Mysteries Revealed.
This is arguably the most detailed work on
the subject to be published, but it is not for
the fainthearted – at 484 pages it is a serious
study of the subject – although written in the
author’s usual easily readable style.
The book is also an illuminating insight
into mediaeval York, and its intriguing part
in the birth of English Freemasonry. It is also
a history of England in the Middle Ages, and
into the 17th and 18th centuries, when
Freemasonry began to take hold on laymen,
as opposed to purely operative stonemasons.
The author takes us step by step through
this fascinating story of the growth of
Freemasonry and its association with the
great cathedral city of York, revealing facts
about the Craft and its origins that are a
veritable treasure trove of that “daily
advancement in Masonic knowledge”.
AUTHOR OF THE QUARTER –
What inspired you to write a biography
of Rudyard Kipling?
I have always admired Kipling and feel
he needed a combative biography to
argue his case, as he simply does not
appear to be taught in schools or
universities, even though he was the
greatest writer Britain produced at a
time when the nation was the preeminent
power in the world. Kipling is
condemned out of hand in a politically correct
environment for being racist,
misogynist and blindly imperialist, yet
when you look at his work, it reflects
none of those qualities. It was the
richness and complexity of Kipling
that I wanted to convey.
Which of your numerous biographies
of people, ranging from Tony Benn to
Emmeline Pankhurst, have you found
The most difficult biography I ever did
was of a decadent poet called Ernest
Dowson who was a friend of Oscar Wilde,
W.B.Yeats and Verlaine. He had a
terrible life, weighed down by blighted
love, poverty, the suicide of his parents,
alcoholism and TB, yet he created some
of the most enduring lyrics in the
language such as Days of Wine and
Roses, Gone With the Wind, Wine,
Women and Song. I wrote the book with
no advance because I so much wanted to
do it, then it took five years to find a
publisher. Madder Music, Stronger Wine
eventually came out in 2000 and got
great reviews in the general and the
academic press, it was published in the
UK and the US and went into paperback.
How do you go about researching your
First, I read everything the person
themselves wrote, particularly letters
and autobiographical material, and I
form my own opinion on them. Then I
will read what their contemporaries said
about them, and then I will look at other
biographies. Finally, I check back with as
many of the original manuscript sources
as I can – Kipling’s papers are in Sussex
University’s archive, for example.
When writing a book, have you got a
preferred place of work and a favoured
I work at home, where I try to be at my
desk at 7am. I work through till 1pm
when I have lunch although, to be
truthful, not much creative work is done
after 11am, it’s mainly organising
material. After lunch I do more active
things (often that means going out on
visits) and return to the desk for the last
few hours of the day until 8pm when I
have dinner. I try to keep to that routine
even when I am away (I live in Greece
for part of the year).
Who is your favourite author?
My favourite living writer is John
Le Carré, whom I consider to be much
undervalued by a literary establishment
obsessed with vacuous, stylish writing.
As for those who are dead, there are too
many to choose from. William Golding
influenced me tremendously when I was
Which book are you reading at present?
For pleasure I am reading my friend
reinterpretation of the famous Oscar
Slater miscarriage of justice in 1908,
The Oscar Slater Murder Story,
published this year.
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