The Catholic University of America Press

The One Thomas More

Travis Curtright

Cloth 978-0-8132-1995-0 $64.95
October 2012 Out of Print
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August 2013 In Print Add to Cart
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"Thomas More" the humanist. "Sir Thomas More" the statesman. "Saint Thomas More" the martyr. Who was Thomas More? Which characterization of him is most true? Despite these multiple images and the problems of More's true identity, Travis Curtright uncovers a continuity of interests and, through interdisciplinary contexts, presents one Thomas More.

The One Thomas More carefully studies the central humanist and polemical texts written by More to illustrate a coherent development of thought. Focusing on three major works from More's humanist phase, The Life of Pico, The History of Richard III, and Utopia, Curtright demonstrates More's idea of humanitas and his corresponding program of moderate political reform. Curtright then shows how More's later polemical theology and defense of the ecclesiastical courts were a continuation of his commitments rather than a break from them. Finally, More's prison letters are examined. His self-presentation in these letters is compared with other recent and iconic versions, such as those in Robert Bolt's Man for All Seasons and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Instead of a divided mind emerging, Curtright ably shows More's integrity and consistency of thought.


Travis Curtright, is a fellow of the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University, and coeditor of Shakespeare's Last Plays: Essays in Politics and Literature.


"Travis Curtright has now added to the luster of the real More's legacy with his excellent new book The One Thomas More."--Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, in Public Discourse

"Travis Curtright does a fine job fusing St. Thomas More's 'humanist credo' and 'his later polemical theology.'"--The Catholic Historical Review

"The One Thomas More is a much needed work of daring."--First Things

"Travis Curtright has realized a masterful synthesis that provides the strongest case to date for seeing More's life and writings as a consistent whole."--Moreana

"In this lucid and well-written work, Curtright restores the unity of More's life and thought against 'revisionist' critics who insist on two Mores--the humanist and the increasingly fanatical statesman and martyr. Curtright succeeds in integrating More's writings and public actions, showing that his humanist writings were informed by a Christian humanism that is perfectly consistent with his later deeds and affirmations."--Daniel J. Mahoney, Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship, Assumption College

"The One Thomas More is a convincing reappraisal of Thomas More's life and writings, coming after decades of contradictory critiques. Also of importance are Curtright's insights into aspects of More that have so far remained marginal in scholarship, such as More the moralist or More the philosopher, which here complete a portrait of the sixteenth century statesman, author and polemicist, in a particularly comprehensive study."--Marie-Claire Phélippeau, Editor of Moreana

"Thomas More's reputation has undergone a reversal of fortune in recent years. According to the late Geoffrey Elton, a prominent Tudor historian, More as saintly man of conscience, represented in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons (1960), was a myth. Elton presented More as just another conniving politician, a view popularized in Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall (2009). As More's reputation declined, that of More's nemesis Thomas Cromwell ascended. Curtright (Univ. of Dallas) has taken on the daunting task of restoring More's reputation and demonstrating consistency in his life and thought. His key text is not Utopia, the usual starting point of More scholarship, but instead More's Life of Pico . Curtright argues that The Life lays out the Christian humanism that was the overarching and enduring principle of More's religious thought, including his insistence that piety must be based on orthodox (Catholic) dogma. Curtright contends that More's violent persecution of Protestant reformers was consistent with his Christian humanism. Maybe so, but this is not an argument that More's critics are likely to warm to. Curtright has made a brave, scholarly attempt to rehabilitate More, but assuredly it will not be the last word on the subject. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." -- J. Sainsbury, Brock University

"Curtright provides a well-written and persuasive argument, grounded in an impressive command of humanist and theological tracts and propelled by a nuanced, methodical rhetorical structure. . . The One Thomas More is a formidable defender of both More's unity and the complementary nature of his humanism and Catholicism."-The Review of Politics

"This is a fine book, offering a substantial engagement with and reorientation of recent scholarship even as it lucidly argues for, on the basis of readings from primary texts, a unified Thomas More." -Ben Jonson Journal

"Travis Curtright sets the record straight that there is just one [More,] unified by a belief that faith and reason work together - and that both are bound together in a common social framework rooted in proper authority. St. Thomas More remains an example for Catholics who wish to be good citizens and people of faith. Curtright ably explains that the resources in More's work are still available to contemporary Catholics."--National Catholic Register

Product Details

Pages:ix, 231 pages

Dimensions:6x9 inches

CIP Information: 2012003189/ PR2322.C87 2012/ 828'.209--dc23


1. More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535--Criticism and interpretation

2. More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535--Political and social views

3. More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535--Religion

4. More, Thomas, Sir, Saint, 1478-1535--Knowledge--Law

5. Christian literature--English--History and criticsm

6. Christian literature, Latin (Medieval and modern)--England--History and criticism

7. Authors, English--Early modern, 1500-1700

8. Statesmen--Great Britain--Biography

9. Humanists--England--Biography

10. Christian martyrs--England--Biography