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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

Twenty Years in Print: The Fascination of Glastonbury

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ September 10, 2011

I’m celebrating early!

2012 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of my historical epic GLASTONBURY, The Novel of Christian England. Yes, TWENTY years! And I’m not a bit grayer than when I started. ( I do write fiction, you understand.)

In this ephemeral market twenty years and still in print is no small thing. Although, I must explain that it did go OOP for a few years in the late 1990’s. And then, one glorious day the new managing editor of Crossway Books said, almost out of the blue, "Would you consider letting us bring GLASTONBURY back into print?" Would I? With a new cover and complete reediting, too. And so the second edition appeared in 2000.

Told through the eyes of the historical Austin Ringwode, the last monk to survive the dissolution of Glastonbury Abbey, the story begins with Druids on the Tor seeing the Bethlehem Star and goes through the Reformation, covering Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon Norman and Tudor England.

And always Glastonbury and its mystical draw is the centerpiece of this grail search, moving from Brother Austin asking, "Where is the Grail?" To "What is the Grail?"

And still, after years of writing, researching, and many visits to Glastonbury, I ponder on what is this mystical draw to "The holiest earth in England"?

Certainly the poet William Blake felt it when he wrote:

 

And did those feet in ancient times,

Walk upon England’s mountains green?

And was the holy Lamb of God

On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

Referring, of course, to the legend that Joseph of Arimathea brought the cup Christ used at the Last Supper with him to England when he fled persecution in his own land. A legend I’ll admit to laughing at the first time I heard it. Then spent years exploring it as I wrote.

I’m far from the only writer to be drawn to this subject in recent years. Amazon offers1,294 hits for the term "Glastonbury." I’ll mention just two here because they are at hand: 

GLASTONBURY TOR, my fellow International Christian Fiction Writer LeAnne Hardy’s historical novel set in the reign of Henry VIII tops my TBR pile with its brooding cover.

And THE CHALICE by one of my favorite writers Phil Rickman, explores the New Age attraction in a soon to be re-released ghost story.

The legends, of course, are much of the draw. Were the bones the monks found buried in a hollowed log marked: hic ixcet . . .Rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia truly the legendary Arthur? Or did he exist at all? Or does it really matter since the things he stood for: right, honour, valour are true? I simply say:

 

 

GLASTONBURY—

The holiest earth in England.

These are the legends,

This is the history

that have made it so.

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

Donna, I loved the way you explored the history of Christianity in Britain by telling stories about one place. And what stories are told about Glastonbury!

I will have to watch for Phil's book. I pray that Glastonbury will be reclaimed for the Christ who was worshipped there for a thousand years.
-LeAnne, September 10, 2011

Two thousand years, actually, LeAnne. And lovely worship still going on. Eucharist every week in St. Patrick's chapel. I've stayed at the Anglican retreat house on the back on the abbey grounds several times--what an experience! I look forward to reviewing your book.
-donna, September 11, 2011

You're right. I was thinking of the dominance of the abbey from ~550 to 1539. I stumbled on a prayer group in the almshouse across the road. It was a low-key ecumenical outreach. It is so easy to pick up conversations about spiritual things in Glastonbury.
-LeAnne, September 12, 2011

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