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The Last Letters of Thomas More
POD; Published: 6/6/2001
ISBN: 978-0-8028-4394-4
Price: $ 23.50
224 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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In the spring of 1534, Thomas More was taken to the Tower of London, and after fourteen months in prison, the brilliant author of Utopia, friend of Erasmus and the humanities, highly respected judge, family man, and former Lord Chancellor of England was beheaded on Tower Hill. Yet More wrote some of his best works as a prisoner, including A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation and a commentary on the agony of Christ (De tristitia Christi). His last letters, too, are works of art that are both historically important and religiously significant.

The Last Letters of Thomas More is a superb new edition of More's prison correspondence, introduced and fully annotated for contemporary readers by Alvaro de Silva. Based on the critical edition of More's correspondence, this volume begins with letters penned by More to Cromwell and Henry VIII in the spring of 1534 and ends with More's last words to Margaret Roper, his daughter, on the eve of his execution, July 6, 1535. More writes on a host of topics — prayer and penance, the right use of riches and power, the joys of heaven, the challenges of maintaining moral virtue, and much more.

These letters also reveal much about More himself, especially his understanding of "conscience." The strength of his conscience was reinforced by the Word of God coming in all its power through Scripture, and by remembering all the faithful of the church. In his vivid imagination of that glorious "company of saints," More found the courage to follow his conscience even unto death. "It is a case," he wrote, "in which a man may lose his head and yet have none harm, but instead of harm inestimable good at the hand of God."

Providing a rich complement to these letters is de Silva's commentary. In it he throws light on the literary works that More wrote in prison, and explores the religious and political conditions of Tudor England. And always he reminds us of More — of the man whose unshakable faith and shining example draw us to him today.
Times Literary Supplement
"The works which Thomas More wrote during the fourteen months of his imprisonment in the Tower of London are an extraordinary testimony to his strength of mind. None, however, are quite as moving as his letters. Consience is the most recurring theme in the letters, introduced and well annotated by Alvaro de Silva. . . These last letters, with their spontaneous and vivid descriptions of the events attending More's arrest, his stern response to his daughters' attempts to persuade him to compromise, and his sustained dignity through his incarceration, increase one's respect for the man."
The Expository Times
"More's prison correspondence, now edited by Alvaro de Silva, is not as well known as Tower of London tracts such as his Dialogue of Comfort and De tristia Christi, and richly deserves the exposure this useful edition provides. . . Alvaro de Silva's edited Last Letters, careful commentary, period glossary, bibliography and index will surely appeal to all serious students of Henrician England. "
Library Journal
"Any More enthusiast will treasure this collection beyond measure, as it offers a clear window onto the soul of one of history's noblest figures. . . What emerges most poignantly from the letters is More's selfless integrity as distinct from the stubborn individualism so often attributed to him. . . Endnotes elaborate on cultural, political, and religious allusions that would otherwise confuse one unfamiliar with the time period. This book makes for a fine supplement to Peter Ackroyd's recent biography, The Life of Thomas More."
First Things
"Each letter is . . . a literary treasure, and the editor's introduction explaining what More meant by ‘comfort,' ‘company,' and ‘conscience' is simply splendid. Warmly recommended."
The Catechist's Connection
"A substantial book that will reap great spiritual benefits is The Last Letters of Thomas More, edited by Alvaro de Silva. . . Great reading for daily meditation, one letter at a time."