Harold Larwood - Duncan Hamilton

The first biography of England’s finest and most controversial fast bowler

•    Harold Larwood’s name is synonymous with the greatest controversy in cricket history,  the Bodyline tour of 1932–3, a sporting event that continues to provoke debate and disagreement to this day

•    Making use of a treasure trove of personal archive material, including a large number of previously unpublished photographs, Hamilton has written the first ever biography of cricket’s most tragic figures, creating a thrilling and moving story of triumph, betrayal and redemption of an authentic working-class hero

•    Duncan Hamilton is a talented sports writer, winning the 2007 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for his universally acclaimed biography Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough, and the Wisden Book of the Year for Sweet Summers: The Classic Writing of JM Kilburn

Harold Larwood - Duncan HamiltonThe Nottinghamshire bowler Harold Larwood was his country’s chief weapon in the notorious 1932–3 Ashes tour, during which England’s fast bowlers used so-called ‘Bodyline’ tactics to counter the threat posed by the great Australian batsman Don Bradman. Larwood’s pace and hostility left Australia’s batsmen battered, reduced Bradman to the status of mere mortal – and brought England a 4–1 series victory. But the fury it engendered brought Anglo-Australian relations to the brink of collapse.

After the series Larwood was used as a scapegoat by the MCC, which demanded he apologise for his intimidatory bowling. Arguing that he had simply obeyed the instructions of his captain Douglas Jardine, Larwood refused. He never played for England again.

The saga of Bodyline has been told before, but Larwood’s own tale, particularly his attitude to the 1932–3 series and his shoddy treatment by the establishment there-after, has not. Using materials provided by Larwood’s family, Duncan Hamilton charts the peaks and troughs of Larwood’s life: from his mining village upbringing, through his rise to stardom, the shock of Bodyline and its traumatic aftermath, to his emigration to Sydney, where he and his family eventually found happiness.

Hamilton examines what his story tells us about issues of class and social standing in early 20th-century Britain, and about the codes and hierarchies that existed in a game that distinguished rigidly between public-school amateurs and working-class professionals

A thrilling and moving recreation of the triumph, betrayal and redemption of a working-class hero and forgotten titan of English cricket, Harold Larwood will enthrall and delight not only cricket fans, but all those who relish biographical writing of the highest quality.


Publisher: Quercus
Format: 352pp - 234 x 153mm - Hardback
Price: £20.00
Publication date: 2nd July 2009