Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press


by Peter Ackroyd

“Nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize – Chatterton is one of those rare books equal to its hype… A tour de force, a brilliant novel.” –USA Today

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 240
  • Publication Date October 16, 1996
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3480-6
  • Dimensions 6.13" x 9.25"
  • US List Price $15.95

About The Book

Peter Ackroyd’s Chatterton was first published in England to tremendous acclaim; it was both a #1 best-seller and was short-listed for the Booker Prize shortly after its publication.

A thoroughly contemporary novel, though with fascinating side trips into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Chatterton has also amazed and entertained American readers. Thomas Chatterton (1752-­­­1770), apparently a suicide at 18, posthumously astonished literary England when he was revealed as the author of a sequence of famous and influential “medieval” poems he claimed to have discovered. An authentic talent as well as a literary counterfeiter, he is the guiding spirit of Peter Ackroyd’s brilliant novel.

In today’s London, a young poet and an elderly female novelist engage the mystery of Chatterton by trying to decode the clues found in an old manuscript, only to discover that their investigation discloses other riddles for which there are no solutions. They are not alone in their quest: the mystery is also being revived in an earlier age, as in the mid-nineteenth century Henry Wallis paints his celebrated portrait of Chatterton lying dead in an attic room. Then young Chatterton himself, an originator and inspiration of the Romantic Movement, steps forward with the surprising story of his final days.

Chatterton is at once a hilariously witty comedy; a thoughtful and dramatic exploration of the deepest issues of authenticity in both life and art; and a subtle and touching story of failed lives, parental love, doomed marriages, and erotic passions.

Tags Literary


“Nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize – Chatterton is one of those rare books equal to its hype… A tour de force, a brilliant novel.” –USA Today

“Chatterton is a wonderfully vivid book, continuously at home to its many lives… Superb.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Thomas Chatterton, England’s famous forger-poet, died in 1770 at the age of seventeen – or did he? Peter Ackroyd’s fascinating third novel takes off from the conceit that Chatterton’s death, like all that was noteworthy in his life, was a fraud. A gaggle of twentieth century would-be sleuths chase after clues; in 1856, George Meredith poses for Henry Wallis’s Death of Chatterton; minor characters of Dickensian eccentricity bumble splendidly around; and all the time, the serious questions are What is art? What is truth? A delightful, thought-provoking, intelligent book.” –Voice Literary Supplement

“One of those rare literary experiments that begins almost too clever for its own good and in the end not only justifies its cleverness but transcends it.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Ingenious… A wildly inventive series of literary allusions. Chatterton’s wit is as…dizzily self-aware as the modern art world it wickedly mocks.” –The New Republic