Robert Harris

Robert Harris studied English at Cambridge University before joining the BBC as a television correspondent. His career in the media included writing as a columnist for the London Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and Political Editor of The Observer before he became a full-time writer.

Since his debut novel Fatherland which was published in 1992, Robert Harris has used fiction to re-write the history of the present. From the outset he has invited serious consideration of contemporary politics in a well-crafted package that entertains and rewards his readers. The success of Fatherland, which imagines in world in which Hitler was triumphant, allowed Harris to make the transition to full-time writer.

Enigma, which was released as a film in 2001 starring Kate Winslet, takes its inspiration from the brilliant individuals who worked to crack the German U-boat code at Bletchley Park during the second world war.

His third novel, Archangel, is set in contemporary Moscow and features Fluke Kelso a historian on the hunt for Joseph Stalin’s secret papers. The book, which was made into a mini-series, starring Daniel Craig, by the BBC takes the young scholar to the remote sea port of Archangel in search of the Soviet dictator’s final secret.

Pompeii (2003) was the first of Harris’ novels to be set in ancient times but draws direct comparisons between the Roman Empire and the United States. His portrait of local corruption makes for such compelling reading that the ‘finale’ is almost a surprise.

Following the publication of Pompeii Harris returned to the Roman era to write Imperium, this first of his trilogy about Cicero – the great statesman and orator. Taking the form of biographies, written by Tiro – Cicero’s assistant and confidante, the books map out Cicero’s attempts to win control of Ancient Rome.

Alongside his novels Harris has also written several well-researched non-fiction titles including Selling Hitler: The Story of the Hitler Diaries (1986), which documented the fiasco following the sudden appearance of the so called ‘Hitler diaries’ in 1983.

Visit our online catalogue for the entire Robert Harris collection, or see displays in your local library.

Imperium by Robert Harris

About the book

When Tiro, the confidential secretary of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events which will eventually propel his master into one of the most famous courtroom dramas in history. The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island’s corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Cicero, a brilliant young lawyer and spellbinding orator, determined to attain imperium – supreme power in the state.This is the starting-point of Robert Harris’s most accomplished novel to date. Compellingly written in Tiro’s voice, it takes us inside the violent, treacherous world of Roman politics, to describe how one man – clever, compassionate, devious, vulnerable – fought to reach the top.

Reviewed by Hayling Library Reading Group:

This was a very popular book with only one member disliking it. The discussion concentrated on the quality of the writer and how he makes detailed historical events very interesting and can be related to modern life. There was further discussion on the factual life of Cicero and his times with interest in further reading.

Star rating: ***

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Pompeii by Robert Harris

book cover

About the book

A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome’s richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world – the mighty Aqua Augusta – has suddenly ceased to flow. Through the eyes of four characters – a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist – Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.

Reviewed by U3A Book Group 4:

We all loved this book. It taught us more about Pompeii and was so well researched you could almost feel you were there. It is very rare for us all to agree and like a book so much and yet want to discuss it in depth.

Star rating: ****

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