Hansard’s book is as much about preserving the ancient sport and tactic of archery as it is about its history, but the history he presents is in the very best Victorian tradition. He details every instance quoted, and often illustrates his points as well, and covers the archer from before the Norman Conquest of 1066 up to archery at Harrow and Eton in 1840, when the book was published. His history travels far afield, and he patriotically writes about the adroitness of English bowmen, as well as the ancient Goths and Persians, Scandinavian archers, Indian bowmen, and archers in the Americas. His treatment is excellent, easy to read and most informative. Hansard also looks at what the archer of 1840 needed, and at the then new-fangled phenomenon of lady archers. He deals with Welsh archers and their history. His account of French archery leads into a discussion of the crossbow. Although not chronological, and sometimes illogical, the treatment of archery examines the wood for the bow, arrow-making, hunting with the bow, and lastly Greek and Roman archery. The woodcut plates are informative and often delightful, with clear delineation and expressiveness. In all a really charming and well-resented book, which will stand both as a reference text and simply a first class read.
George Agar Hansard
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2004 N & M Press reprint . SB. xv + 456pp with b/w plates