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The Professor and the Parson: A Story of Desire, Deceit and Defrocking

Adam Sisman

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History

How a liar, bigamist and fraudulent priest took in some of the brightest minds of his generation

One day in November 1958, the celebrated historian Hugh Trevor-Roper received a curious letter. It was an appeal for help, written on behalf of a student at Magdalene College, with the unlikely claim that he was being persecuted by the Bishop of Oxford. Curiosity piqued, Trevor-Roper agreed to a meeting. It was to be his first encounter with Robert Parkin Peters: plagiarist, bigamist, fraudulent priest and imposter extraordinaire.

The Professor and the Parson traces the strange career of one of Britain's most eccentric criminals. Motivated not by money but by a desire for prestige, Peters' lied, stole and cheated his way to academic positions and religious posts from Cambridge to New York, Singapore and South Africa. Frequently deported, and even more frequently discovered, his trail of destruction included seven marriages (three of which were bigamous), an investigation by the FBI and a disastrous appearance on Mastermind.

Based on Trevor-Roper's own detailed 'file on Peters', The Professor and the Parson is a witty and charming account of eccentricity, extraordinary narcissism and a life as wild and unlikely as any in fiction.

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Adam Sisman

Adam Sisman is an award-winning writer, author of BOSWELL'S PRESUMPTUOUS TASK, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and winner of the US National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and of biographies of John le Carre and Hugh Trevor-Roper. He lives in Bristol.

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