In the Shadow of Vesuvius
Daisy Dunn, Read by Mike Grady

Book cover image

Narrated By: Mike Grady

Duration: 8 hours and 33 minutes

What to expect

‘Never less than compelling … She consistently succeeds in bringing what might otherwise seem dusty and remote to vivid life’ Tom Holland, Literary Review

‘Starts with an erupting volcano – and then gets more exciting … Wonderfully rich, witty, insightful and wide-ranging’ Sarah Bakewell

In a dazzling new literary biography, Daisy Dunn introduces Pliny the Younger, the survivor who became a Roman lawyer, senator, poet, collector of villas, curator of drains, and representative of the Emperor. He was confidant and friend to the great and good, an unparalleled chronicler of the Vesuvius catastrophe, and eyewitness to the terror of Emperor Domitian.

The younger Pliny was adopted by his uncle, admiral of the fleet and author of the Natural History, an extraordinary compendium of knowledge and the world’s first full-length encyclopaedia. The younger Pliny inherited his uncle’s notebooks and carried their pearls of wisdom with him down the years.

Daisy Dunn breathes vivid life back into the Plinys. Reading from the Natural History and the Younger Pliny’s Letters, she resurrects the relationship between the two men to expose their beliefs on life, death and the natural world in the first century. Interweaving their work, and positioning the Plinys in relation to the devastating eruption, Dunn’s biography is a celebration of two outstanding minds of the Roman Empire, and their lasting influence on the world thereafter.
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Genre

Ancient, classical & medieval texts, Biography: historical, political & military

Listen to a sample

Winner of the Classical Association Prize 2020

‘A fascinating, compelling and excellent biography of the two great Plinys of Ancient Rome, as well as a celebration of nature, a study of literature and the human soul, and a lens into Roman society itself … This work of both scholarship and entertainment, arranged in Plinyesque seasons rather than strict chronology, is a delight that befits their high standards.’ Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘Starts with an erupting volcano – and then gets more exciting. A wonderfully rich, witty, insightful and wide-ranging portrait of the two Plinys … and their world.’ Sarah Bakewell

'Daisy Dunn’s book is an absolute delight. Meticulously researched and beautifully crafted, it shines a clear beam of light into the private lives of Pliny the Elder and Younger.' Giles Milton

‘Immensely entertaining and readable …. Dunn has given us a delightful new biography … Thoroughly recommended’ Sunday Times

‘Never less than compelling … Without ever veering into historical fiction, she consistently succeeds in bringing what might otherwise seem dusty and remote to vivid life … A portrait of the Roman Empire that gives the reader something of the shiver down the spine that Herculaneum can inspire’ Tom Holland, Literary Review

‘It is a story …retold with vivid flair…Dunn knits [the two Plinys’] lives together well and analyses the influence that they would have later on scholars from the Italian Renaissance to the English Romantic poets’ The Times

‘An enthralling and ambitious book … Dunn has a great eye for a story, and writes wonderfully’ The Daily Telegraph

‘If only Daisy Dunn’s book had been around back when I was an aspiring classicist … Dunn is a good writer, with some of the easy erudition of Mary Beard … Her translations of both Plinys are graceful and precise … Her enthusiasm, together with her eye for the odd, surprising detail, wins you over’ New York Times