William Penn: A Life

Oxford Univ. Nov. 2018. 480p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190234249. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9780190234263. BIOG
William Penn (1644–1718) became a household name in the New World despite staying only four years in the colony that bears his name. His passionate dedication to the Society of Friends led him to create a sanctuary for a Christian sect being persecuted by the British establishment. According to Murphy (political science, Rutgers Univ.; Liberty, Conscience, and Toleration: The Political Thought of William Penn), Penn became an impassioned Quaker apologist, political agitator, organizer, preacher and royal courtier in Great Britain. Penn converted to Quakerism against the desires of his father. However, because of his father's service to King Charles II, Penn received a charter in 1681 to found a new American colony with him as sole proprietor, seeking to create a haven for religious dissenters. Constantly strapped for funds, he also hoped that Pennsylvania would restore his financial state. Penn partially succeeded in his quest.
VERDICT Well crafted and thoroughly researched, the writing style here is more academic than narrative. Yet, for anyone desiring comprehensive knowledge of Penn's life, this is the book to read.—Glen Edward Taul, formerly with Campbellsville Univ., KY

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