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Peter Berresford Ellis

Updated on October 8, 2014

The prolific and gifted story-teller of Ireland

How do you begin to describe Peter Berresford Ellis? You could start by saying he is an historian, a biographer, a novelist and short-story writer but, above all, he is a scholar. An eminent Celtic scholar.

He's certainly a prolific writer. Berresford Ellis has now published over 90 books, roughly 100 short stories and numerous academic papers. His work has appeared in over 20 languages.

As `Peter Tremayne' he is best known for his international best-selling Sister Fidelma Mysteries, set in 7th Century Ireland and featuring a popular sleuth who solves her cases in accordance with the ancient Irish law system, the Brehon.

Writing as Peter Tremayne

Sister Fidelma

I love Sister Fidelma!

I love the mystery, the sleuthing, the characters and customs. I enjoy reading good detective fiction that can transport me totally to another time. The Fidelma books do this exceedingly well.

Ireland has preserved as part of her heritage a large body of ancient law tracts, known collectively as 'Fenechas', the law of the Feine (Freemen), or more commonly, the Brehon Law. These laws are the oldest in Europe.

The interpretation and enforcement of the law was vested in the hands of a specialist group of advocates known as Brehons. These advocates were highly trained in memorising huge amounts of traditional knowledge and intricate judgements.

Fidelma is an Eognacht princess, sister to the king of Cashel and respected advocate of the ancient Brehon laws. She is called upon to solve dark mysteries and murder most foul for Fidelma is a qualified dalaigh.

Fidelma is a pleasure to meet! If you haven't read any before, start with these fifteen short mysteries.

eyeflare

Fifteen Sister Fidelma short mysteries - Hemlock at Vespers

An introduction to Sr Fidelma through these short stories

Hemlock at Vespers: Fifteen Sister Fidelma Mysteries
Hemlock at Vespers: Fifteen Sister Fidelma Mysteries

Hemlock at Vespers contains 15 stand-alone stories, perfect for the newcomer and the follower alike.

It's the best way to meet the redheaded moody protagonist and dedicated Fidelma fans will love the stories and understand the reasons for her disillusionment with the House of Blessed Brigid

 

From my own Bookshelf

I recommend these beauties from Peter Beresford Ellis

The Celtic Revolution: - A Study in Anti-Imperialism

The Celts once inhabited territory from Turkey to Spain, but are now confined to eight territories.

Berresford Ellis asserts that, since there is no Celtic race, the basic determiner of Celtic identity is language. When the six Celtic tongues are allowed to die, the Celts will no longer, in his view, exist.

He believes individual liberty and fulfillment is impossible without national freedom.

The Celtic Revolution: A Study in Anti-Imperialism
The Celtic Revolution: A Study in Anti-Imperialism

Peter Berresford Ellis makes a strong but concise case for the integrity of the Celtic lands - Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany and Cornwall, and colonies in Cape Breton and Patagonia - and their languages.

 

A Brief History of the Celts - Making the scholarly accessible

A foremost authority on the Celtic peoples and their culture, Peter Berresford Ellis presents an invigorating overview of their world.

With his gift for making the scholarly accessible, he discusses the Celts' mysterious origins and early history and investigates their rich and complex society. His use of recently uncovered firds brings fascinating insights into Celtic kings and chieftains, architecture and arts, medicine and religion, myth and legend.

A Brief History of the Celts
A Brief History of the Celts

Uncovering one of the world's greatest civilisations.

For centuries the Celts held sway in Europe. Even after their conquest by the Romans, their culture remained vigorous, ensuring that much of it endured to feed an endless fascination with Celtic history and myths, artwork and treasures.

 

The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends - From all six Celtic cultures

The popular myths and legends, plus exciting tales which have been lying in manuscript form, translated and unknown.

From all six Celtic cultures - Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton.

The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends (Mammoth Books)
The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends (Mammoth Books)

Peter Berresford Ellis brings not only his extensive knowledge of source material but also his acclaimed skills of storytelling to produce an original, enthralling and definitive collection of Celtic myths and legends.

Wondrous tales of gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, magical weapons, geasa, fabulous beasts, and entities from the ancient Celtic world.

 

Erin's Blood Royal

A stately and informative study of the history and culture of old Ireland through the family trees of the dynasties which ruled for 2,000 years until the invasion of Henry VIII.

Erin's Blood Royal: the Noble Gaelic Dynasties of Ireland
Erin's Blood Royal: the Noble Gaelic Dynasties of Ireland

Berresford Ellis traces an articulate and impressive account of the family branches whose descendants live in England, Australia, Canada, USA and, of course, Ireland, to this day

 

The Druids - The subject of propaganda

Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological findings and the use of etymology, shows that the Druids have been subject to propaganda and fabrications through the centuries.

A Brief History of the Druids (The Brief History) [Paperback]
A Brief History of the Druids (The Brief History) [Paperback]

A history of the cult of the ancient Druids, exploring who they really were and what role they played in the Celtic world.

Berresford Ellis' interpretation of the facts, based on both archaeological and etymological findings.

 

Early Irish Astrology

An Historical Argument

Fortunately there is an essay on Irish Astrology by Berresford Ellis online.

" In all histories of western astrology there is a curious omission. There are no references to early Irish, nor - indeed - ancient Celtic, astrological practices.........

The major reason for this neglect of the subject, at least during the last fifty years, has undoubtedly been the insidious influence of Robert Graves' The White Goddess (1949). This book has done singular disservice to those who seek to study the realities of Celtic cosmology and, especially, the practice of astrology. Graves was not a Celtic scholar".

Read the full article by Peter Berresford Ellis on early Irish Astrokogy

Five Highlights of the Honours for Peter Berresford Ellis

Berresford Ellis is a leading authority on the Celts and highly regarded by academics in his own field .Here are just some of the many honours he has received.

  • Cornish Gorsedd : Inaugurated a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd for his work on the Cornish language in 1987.
  • Anonn Is Anal: Commenced his regular monthly column `Anonn Is Anall' for the Irish Democrat, the journal of the Connolly Association.
  • Celtic League : Elected international president of the Celtic League 1988
  • Society of Scotland : Elected Hon. Life President of the 1820 Society of Scotland.
  • Irish Literary Society : Hon. Life Membership of the Irish Literary Society (founded in 1892)

Did you know Peter Berresford Ellis before?

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© 2009 Susanna Duffy

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    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      When am I going to read all these great books you keep recommending! Great lens :-)

    • profile image

      scribe77 6 years ago

      He's one of my favourite authors. I love this lens.

    • profile image

      ThomasJ4 LM 6 years ago

      I had never heard of Peter, thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hello , i'd like to say i enjoy the author very much , but im here seeking a comment from him on the supposed saxon metal work found in the saxon hoard. i believe it to be more likely a celtic treasure taken from a vanquished rading force.....then hidden when a relief force was in the vacinity. But i dont like the claiming of such work as purely saxon as it appears late celtic to me and the cross i think proves this.also inscriptions in latin , i think they rushed the gun on this one. im saxon and celt with a smattering of viking(arnt wee all), im more a purist and think they missed the boat on this one.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      Sounds like a prolific and very interesting man. At least his books will be around to bring the Celts to life. *Blessed*

    • SusannaDuffy profile image
      Author

      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @Spook LM: And you're in Ireland? Heavens!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      Very informative, had never heard of him prior to this.

    • MikeMoore LM profile image

      MikeMoore LM 9 years ago

      Another great lens, Susan!

    • profile image

      scribe77 9 years ago

      He's one of my favourite authors too.

      His books are one of my main research sources (for my fantasy fiction), and I love the Sister Fidelma novels.

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