The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Boswell’s Presumptuous Task describes his investigation into the true life of fraudulent priest Robert Parkin Peters and how he cheated his way through bigamous marriages, religious posts and academic positions.
This “amusing and elegantly written” romp takes readers on a wild ride through the life of Robert Parkin Peters (The New York Times Book Review)—a liar, bigamist, and fraudulent priest who tricked 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 Magdalen 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 is a witty and charming portrait of eccentricity, extraordinary narcissism, and a life as wild and unlikely as any in fiction. 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. Frequently deported, and even more frequently discovered, he left a trail of destruction including seven marriages (three of which were bigamous) and an investigation by the FBI."I was captivated from start to finish by this utterly mad, and wholly delightful story of chicanery and fantasy, and which involves a man who relentlessly duped our most cherished institutions of godly pursuit and higher learning. Plus I learned how to defrock a priest, always good to have on hand in these troubling times." ––Simon Winchester, author of The Perfectionists