David Mitchell


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Penguin Books
23 May 2024
ISBN: 9781405953191
448 pages

From the publisher

A seriously FUNNY, seriously CLEVER history of our early kings and queens by one of our favourite comedians and cultural commentators


A funny book about a serious subject, Unruly is for anyone who has ever wondered how we got here - and who is to blame.

'Clever, amusing, gloriously bizarre and razor sharp. Mitchell – a funny man and skilled historian – tells stories that are interesting and fun. Here is Horrible Histories for grownups’ GERARD DEGROOT, THE TIMES

'Just fantastic. Delightfully contrary and hilariously cantankerous. Very, very funny’ JESSE ARMSTRONG, CREATOR OF SUCCESSION AND PEEP SHOW

'Clever, funny. Makes you think quite differently about history’ DAN SNOW, HISTORIAN AND BROADCASTER

Think you know your kings and queens? Think again.

Discover who we are and how we got here in comedian and student of history David Mitchell's ​UNRULY: A History of England's Kings and Queens - a thoughtful, funny exploration of the founding fathers and mothers of England, and subsequently Britain.

In ​UNRULY, David Mitchell explores how England's monarchs, while acting as feared rulers firmly guiding their subjects' destinies, were in reality a bunch of lucky sods who were mostly as silly and weird in real life as they appear today in their portraits.

Taking us right back to King Arthur (spoiler: he didn't exist), David tells the founding story of post-Roman England right up to the reign of Elizabeth I (spoiler: she dies). It's a tale of narcissists, inadequate self-control, excessive beheadings, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars, and at least one total Cnut, as the population evolved from having their crops nicked by the thug with the largest armed gang to bowing and paying taxes to a divinely anointed king.

How this happened, who it happened to and why it matters in modern Britain are all questions David Mitchell answers with brilliance, wit and the full erudition of a man who once studied history – and won't let it off the hook for the mess it's made.

‘An enjoyable, rollicking read, definitely not a conventional history book’ THE TIMES
Chatty, irreverent and liberally sprinkled with gags and opinions. Horrible Histories with added swearing’ GUARDIAN

'Mitchell clearly knows his history, with a book that owes as much to Monty Python as it does to Simon Schama' ANDREW MARR, BROADCASTER

'Who knew a history of England's rulers could be this hilarious?i

'I can’t recommend this book enough. Very funny and interesting, it is above all a proper work of history' CHARLIE HIGSON