The Black Prince

By Anthony Burgess and Adam Roberts

A novel by Adam Roberts adapted from an original script by Anthony Burgess.

History
103% funded
443 supporters
Published

Publication date: October 2018

Buy
book cover
You made The Black Prince a reality. It's available in all good book stores now.
$15 
84 pledges

Digital

Ebook edition
Choose this reward

Sold out!

$25  + shipping
133 pledges

Hardback

1st edition hardback and ebook edition
$35  + shipping
82 pledges

Signed

Signed 1st edition hardback, and ebook edition
$40  + shipping
88 pledges

Collectable

Signed, personally dedicated and lined by Adam 1st edition hardback, ebook edition and your name in the back of the book
$50  + shipping
22 pledges

A Guided Tour Round Burgess' Novels

Ebook of Adam's collected, extensive critical essays on each of Anthony Burgess' 33 novels and everything to Signed level.
$50  + shipping
4 pledges

Two together

2x 1st edition hardbacks (shipped together), ebook edition
$65  + shipping
9 pledges

Swiftly

Signed limited hardback edition of Adam's short story collection, Swiftly, Ebook of collected critical essays and everything to Signed level
(9 available)
$65  + shipping
6 pledges

Pictures from an Exhibition

A copy of the photographic exhibition catalogue 'Manchester Made Me', featuring rare images of Burgess and Manchester, plus everything to signed level
Only 20 available
$90  + shipping
1 pledge

Burgess' Music

Two CDs of music composed by Anthony Burgess, Ebook of the collected critical essays and everything to signed level.
(1 available)
$90  + shipping
5 pledges

The Poet

Limited (one of only 250) edition letterpress prints of an unpublished poem 'Essay on Censorship' by Anthony Burgess. Plus everything to signed level
Only 5 available
$100  + shipping
10 pledges

Burgess's own Book

A scarce HB copy of an Anthony Burgess novel from Burgess' own personal collection. With a bookplate and letter of provenance from the Burgess Foundation. Plus everything to Collectible level
Only 10 available
Available titles (2 copies of each):
ON MOZART
THE DEVIL'S MODE
FLAME INTO BEING
CYRANO DE BERGERAC
MAN OF NAZARETH
THE KINGDOM OF THE WICKED
ENDERBY'S DARK LADY
NAPOLEON SYMPHONY
$125  + shipping
1 pledge

Source Materials

Adam's own Library of America hardback edition of USA by John Dos Passos, a hardback edition of Anthony Burgess' Napoleon Symphony, an ebook of the collected critical essays and everything to signed level.
(1 available)
$125  + shipping
1 pledge

Screenplay Pages

Facsimile typescript pages from the screenplay THE BLACK PRINCE by Anthony Burgess. Burgess' own three-page synopsis and the first page of the screenplay typescript itself, which has Burgess’s signature on it. Presented in a collector's presentation folder. An Ebook of Adam's 33 collected critical essays on Burgess's canon. Plus everything to signed level
Only 10 available
$310  + shipping
1 pledge

Appear as a Character in an Adam Roberts Novel

Tell Adam a little about yourself (what you look like, a couple of things about your character) and he'll write you into his next novel as a minor character. Or if you prefer just give him your name. Plus everything to signed level.
(Two available)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get my book delivered to?

We deliver to most countries worldwide. Enter your delivery address during checkout and we'll display the shipping cost when we know where to send your book.

How do supporter names work?

Every person who pledges to help to make a book gets their name included in a supporter section as a thank you. If you want to add a different name, this can be changed in your account after you have completed your pledge.

Still have a question? Visit our Help Centre to find out more.

I grew up reading Anthony Burgess, and have been a long-term fan: I consider him one of the few actual geniuses of the twentieth-century novel. So when I chanced upon the following exchange, from a 1972 interview Burgess gave to the Paris Review, I was intrigued:



INTERVIEWER

Do you expect to write any more historical novels?

BURGESS

I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time, using Dos Passos’ devices. I believe there’s great scope in the historical novel . . . The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia.

INTERVIEWER

Which of Dos Passos’ techniques will you use?

BURGESS

The novel I have in mind, and for which I’ve done a ninety-page plan, is about the Black Prince. I thought it might be amusing blatantly to steal the Camera Eye and the Newsreel devices from Dos Passos just to see how they might work, especially with the Black Death and Crécy and the Spanish campaign. The effect might be of the fourteenth century going on in another galaxy where language and literature had somehow got themselves into the twentieth century. The technique might make the historical characters look remote and rather comic—which is what I want.



The idea of an unfinished Anthony Burgess novel, based on such a fascinating premise, took hold of me. I talked about it with Andrew Biswell (director of the Burgess Foundation in Manchester the world’s leading expert on Burgess’s writing) and we agreed it would be worth seeing if the work could be completed. I have always felt that a science fiction writer is working in the same sort of territory as the writer of historical fiction (and several of my SF novels have been historical, or included historical elements): the creation of a world, the estrangement of the familiar. Dos Passos is a giant of experimental Modernist writing, and his techniques were adopted by John Brunner in his SF masterpiece Stand of Zanzibar; but nobody has applied them to a medieval topic. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist.

The Foundation sent me copies of the relevant material from their Burgess archives, most usefully a complete screenplay Burgess wrote in the mid-1970s called ‘The Black Prince’, drawing all his notes and ideas together. The film was never made, but the screenplay gave me a sense of how to bring the whole thing together.

I sat down to re-read the entire run of Burgess’s novels, to get myself into a proper Burgess frame of mind, and to saturate myself with a sense of his style—actually a variety of different styles. Above all I wanted there to be no visible ‘seam’ where Burgess’s stuff ended and mine began. At the same time I read as widely as I could on the history of fourteenth-century Europe. It is important to the novel that, though the form and style are vigorously modern, the subject matter itself should be scrupulously accurate and historical—it helped that I work for the University of London, and that several of my medievalist colleagues allowed me to pick their brains.

The novel came together over a period of about a year. The biggest technical challenge was in keeping Burgess’s own voice alive throughout, and in those sections which were just me I worked hard to produce something of which, were he alive, he would not be ashamed. Speaking for myself I’m immensely proud of the novel that has resulted. It is both an original historical novel unlike any other, and also an addition to the canon of Burgess’s own novels.

I’m especially delighted that we’ve been able to bring this project to the world in 2017, the centenary of Burgess’s birth. Were he here I suspect he might eye me warily, puff on one of his cigars, and perhaps have some whisky; but I’d like to think he’d be secretly pleased.

- Adam Roberts

Buy

Quick select rewards

$15 
84 pledges

Digital

Ebook edition
Choose this reward
$25  + shipping
133 pledges

Hardback

1st edition hardback and ebook edition
  • Anthony Burgess avatar

    Anthony Burgess

    Adam Roberts avatar

    Adam Roberts

    Anthony Burgess—the pen name of John Anthony Burgess Wilson—was born in Manchester in 1917. He studied English at the Victoria University of Manchester between 1937-1940 and began writing poetry and prose; he also began composing music, in which discipline he was entirely self-taught. During World War 2 he was posted to Gibraltar, and after the war he worked as a teacher in England, Malaya and Brunei, and published his first novel Time for a Tiger in 1958. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and believing (erroneously) that he had less than a year to live he quit teaching in 1959, returned to Britain and wrote six novels in short order, so as to provide financially for his wife after his death—amongst these were A Clockwork Orange (1962) and Inside Mr Enderby (1963). Through the 1960s he published prolifically, establishing a reputation as one of the leading writers of his generation. His first wife, Lynne, died in 1968; and Burgess married the Italian translator Liana, moving to Continental Europe where he spent most of the rest of his life. Stanley Kubrick’s film of A Clockwork Orange (1971) brought Burgess global fame, and the 1970s saw him produce some of his best work, including the historical novels Napoleon Symphony: a Novel in four Movements (1974) and Abba Abba (1977) and Earthly Powers (1980), considered by many his masterpiece. He continued writing, publishing and composing until his death in 1993.

    Adam Roberts is a writer, critic and academic based in the south East of England. He is the author of sixteen novels and many shorter works, including the prize-winning Jack Glass (2012). His most recent novel is The Thing Itself (2015), He is Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has published critically on a wide range of topics, including 19th and 20th-centruy fiction and science fiction.

  • Prelude

    Prance, Noah!

    There are many kinds of flood, not all of them water. Here: France, green and grey beneath a swift blue sky, and wholly submerged. The flood here is war. The House Valois is a tall house, but only its rooftop tiles and the pennant flying from its flagpole remain visible, so high has the flood risen. Those who walk on the earth are drowned, the common folk, the men and women. Those who sail in ships live, like this castellated English ship, made of wood as a coffin is made of wood.

    When he is on land this Black Prince rides a prancing horse; and when he is at sea this Black Prince rides a prancing ship, lively over the waves. Clouds drag bridal trails of rain behind them as they sweep from sea to land. The Prince is on deck, unmindful of the drizzle that tickles his face. In between the folds of cloth-like rain he can glimpse fresh beaches, green fields. The French coast.

    The rainbow sign was a promise that there would be no more waterfloods. But there are other kinds of flood that can inundate a countryside, and some are more like unto fire than water. Today’s Noah has a care only for the English. No Noah can save the French.

    King Edward, third of that name, rides an even grander boat, a wooden castle, a barracks; below decks was coughing and demons, swearing and shitting and drinking, and tied-up horses skittering unhappily on the angling and tipping wooden floor. Hooves tattoo. Rat-tats that make the rats scatter. Too exhausted to whinny. Boys try to calm them. Wipe flanks with tattered cloths. The cabins at the rear of the boat are where the quality hunker, holding in the contents of their sloshy stomachs. A life on hard land has not prepared them for this. Now they are not on hard land, but over it: suspended some hundreds of feet over the mud and rocks of the channel bed, where strange sealife creeps and pulses, and immemorial weeds grow in sodden forests, and bodies lie thousands upon thousands, grasping at one another or at empty brine or phlebasing their way into an oblivion as currents tug their bones apart and crustacea nibble at their flesh.

    The king is helped through the slushy sand and foaming waves, up onto the beach. The drizzle is thinning and the sun is coming out.

    Mount! Mount!

    Noah rides a high-stepping horse, draped and harnessed in finery. He is returning to the high ground where he first berthed his big boat. When I was last here, he says, and the wind sends his beard sideways, like a comet’s tail, when I was last here this was the only land.

    He has attendants, bannermen, servants, lords and high born warriors, all cluster about him.

    —Your highness?

    —Your highness! Your highness!

    Under the sunlight, the view has the brightness and perfection of an illustrated manuscript: greens soaked in blue-light, silver shining armour, red and golden standards, all the colours new washed and gorgeous. The party rides, keeping the sea on their left hand. Light leaps as a gorgeous ribbon of prisming colour from cloud to horizon.

    Think thou of all the bloating drowned
    Tangling below
    Who died before they ever saw
    This rainbow.

    It seems to me true cruelty from
    That fierce judge who
    Would take their all from them, and life,
    And then this beauty too.

    Read more...
  • Anthony Burgess and Adam Roberts have written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    15th February 2018 Burgess on Language

    Whatever else he was (and he was many things, from novelist, critic and teacher to poet and musician) Burgess was a man in love with language. In the second Enderby novel, The Clockwork Testament, or Enderby's End (1974) he adapts a saying of Mallarmé. Enderby is teaching creative writing to angry New York students, one of whom reads out a bad poem to the class. When Enderby tells him that the…

    28th October 2017 Memes R Us

    Courtesy of my friend Will Wiles:

     

    20th October 2017 Independent interview: "Like Clockwork"

    A little while ago David Barrett interviewed me prior to writing this article for the Independent: "Like Clockwork: An unfinished Anthony Burgess script is about to be published" [Monday 28 August 2017]. You can read the article at that link, but there was quite a lot that came out of our chat that he wasn't able to use. So, with his permission I'm posting the original Q & A.

     



    1. How long…

    16th October 2017 At Poictiers

    JOHN OF GHISTELLES

    He wasn’t scared of dying. That was, after all, always the prospect a soldier faced in battle and being scared of it would be as absurd as a woodworker being scared of wood. And (as he told himself before every combat) if he did die, it would be good to see his father again. Catch up. This morning, though, he mounted his horse and looked across the parched French landscape at…

    22nd August 2017 Medieval horrors, medieval glamour

     

    Writing The Black Prince meant studying medieval history and literature in a way I hadn’t been able to do since I was a student—my current day job is ‘Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature’, when it’s not ‘Writer of Science Fiction Novels’. But there are many parallels, actually, between the work of the SF writer and the historical novelist (being able to worldbuild a fundamentally alien…

    31st July 2017 Excerpt from "The Black Prince"

    IOWERTH

    Three times, as a baby, he had fallen into sicknesses they were sure would kill him: once with a speckled pox, once a fever that turned him redder than a robin’s breast all over his body, and once he slept for three days and nights and grew cold and clammy as a fish. Yet he survived all three, and by the time he was seven years of age Iorwerth was as strong as any lad of his parish. He…

    17th July 2017 Writing "The Black Prince"

     

    Following on from my post about Burgess as a historical novelist, I want to say something about the decisions I made in actually writing The Black Prince.

    Burgess planned a novel about the life of Edward of Woodstock (1330-1376), known as ‘the Black Prince’, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales from 1343, Prince of Aquitaine from 1362, eldest son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault…

    29th June 2017 Burgess as Historical Novelist

    We don't think of Anthony Burgess primarily as a historical novelist. He wrote so many different types of novel he was more-or-less a whole literary movement on his own: literary fiction, postcolonial writing, science fiction, non-fiction, verse novels, spy adventure (his Tremor of Intent (1966), as richly strange as any experimental novel, also works extremely well as a readable James Bond pastiche…

  • These people are helping to fund The Black Prince.

    User avatar

    David Michael

    User avatar

    Ken Muir

    User avatar

    Susan Dunham

    User avatar

    William Matthews

    User avatar

    alex Renton

    User avatar

    Matthew Meade

    User avatar

    Phil Christman

    User avatar

    Peter Esbensen

    User avatar

    Ramon Stoppelenburg

    User avatar

    John Mitchinson

    User avatar

    Steve Glover

    User avatar

    Roman Demidov

    User avatar

    Gabriela Steinke

    User avatar

    Phil Christman

    User avatar

    Ray Lakeman

    User avatar

    Robert Maskell

    User avatar

    Stephen Witkowski

    User avatar

    Diana Metcalfe

    User avatar

    Sarah Perry

    User avatar

    Robert Roehm

    User avatar

    Connor Doyle

    User avatar

    Antonia Honeywell

    View more
  • Wendy Bosberry-Scott
    Wendy Bosberry-Scott asked:

    Could you tell me please, with the Burgess' own Book pledge - are you able to specify which book? Is there a list to choose from? Thanks.

    Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts replied:

    That's one for the Burgess Foundation; I'll see if they can be prompted to answer it.

    Matthew Searle
    Matthew Searle asked:

    Hi - I pledged at the Burgess's own Book level, is there a way to choose which book we get? First come first served? Lucky dip? Ta :)

    Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts replied:

    That's one for the Bugress Foundation, not me: I'll nudge them and maybe they can say!

    Nigel Smith
    Nigel Smith asked:

    I'm in the same position as Matthew (Burgess's Own Book Level) and was wondering the same thing, so I'd be interested to know what the response from the Foundation is. Looking forward very much to the book!

    Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts replied:

    I did ask, but will nudge them again.

    Matthew Searle
    Matthew Searle asked:

    Now that we're getting closer, what was the response to the nudge about the book choices?

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Hi Matthew, I've spoken to Adam about this, and we feel that it's fairest if the books are chosen on a 'lucky dip' basis. I hope that's OK! Best wishes, Caitlin - Community Manager