By Peter Ackroyd
What's the secret of Thomas Chatterton? a tender poet and aged lady novelist try and decode the clues stumbled on inside an 18th-century manuscript, merely to find that their research is disclosing different secrets and techniques for which there's no resolution.
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Additional resources for Chatterton
Charles stared out of the window. 'But he had the painting. He knew that Chatterton didn't kill himself. ' 'So that was their secret,' Philip said very softly. There was a jolt as the train came suddenly to a halt and he went on, more cheerfully, 'Signal failure. ' In his early youth he had been an avid 'spotter' of trains, and had never lost his enthusiasm for the arcana of railway procedure. ' He was grinning. Charles was still looking out of the window. 'But why was it their secret? ' With more eagerness now he went back to the papers he had taken from Bramble House: the sudden lurch of the compartment had scattered them across the table, and for the first time Charles noticed a large brown envelope with the word 'Fragile' written in red crayon on the side.
The brightness of these colours was such that the stained glass seemed to hover in mid-air, and its rich brocaded light soared across the vaultings of the high roof. And I am seeing again, Philip thought, what Thomas Chatterton himself once saw as a child. Footsteps broke his reverie, and he glanced at a small boy who was walking with deliberate pace up the narrow aisle which led to the south transept; his head was bowed and he seemed to be scrutinising the flagstones as he went across them. Then he disappeared behind a canopied tomb beside the nave and a few moments later a young man emerged from the other side; it was as if there had been a sudden transformation within this ancient church.
There was a silence, a cough, the sound of a drawer being locked, and then the door was swung violently open. ' Mr Leno was looking down at Edward, and seemed to be addressing the child. ' At this moment Mr Leno stuck out his tongue at the boy, who indignantly returned the gesture before being ushered into the presence of Mrs Leno. 'A sprig,' she said. ' Edward put his hands into his pockets and scowled at her. ' Charles smiled benignly at both of them during this short exchange before turning to Mr Leno.
Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd