September 06, 2004

Not put out

As it happens, there's some question as to whether Thomas Cranmer ever actually spoke the line ("we shall today light such a fire in England...") that is generally attributed to him. I learned this from a pub conversation with Diarmaid MacCulloch, whose biography of Cranmer won a number of awards. Diarmaid said he was researching the pamphlets of the time to try and work out whether the phrase might have been put into Cranmer's mouth posthumously by his admirers - or whether it was recorded by his enemies, and therefore likely Cranmer's own. Diarmaid was unaware of the reference to the phrase in Truffaut. I have occasionally wondered whether he ever did publish any conclusions on the subject and whether, having provided him with that small snippet, I may have been mentioned in some obscure footnote in some journal like Past And Present.

I once saw Diarmaid's book praised in the Guardian by no less important a Protestant personage than the Reverend Ian Paisley. Did he know that the subject of his commendation was a gay Catholic Irishman?


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