Walking Hadrian's Wall: A Memoir of a Father's Suicide
by Bob Royalty
When author and historian Bob Royalty fulfilled his dream to walk the Roman ruins of Hadrian’s Wall, across northern England from the North Sea to the Irish Sea, he had no idea what he would find along the trail. But the weight of his father’s suicide twenty-five years ago that very week was as heavy as his backpack. While testing himself against the physical strain of the 100-mile adventure, he grappled with the lasting grief of losing a father three months before his own son was born and his own failures in the years since. Why did his father kill himself? As the account of the walk unfolds, Royalty reflects upon his past personal experiences through the lenses of English and Roman history as well as religious and Biblical studies. This introspective travel memoir has much to offer those who seek to explore raw life experiences told with careful reflection and genuine warmth.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
ISBN: 978-1-951651-90-9 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Released July 2021
Bob Royalty is Professor of History and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Raised in Atlanta, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Yale Divinity School, and Yale University Graduate School. He is the author of two scholarly monographs (The Streets of Heaven, Mercer University Press, 1996; and The Origin of Heresy, Routledge, 2013) and numerous articles and reference entries. He and his spouse, Anne, divide their time between homes in Indiana and North Carolina. Their two grown children live in New York City.
“Bob Royalty’s memoir Walking Hadrian’s Wall is a disarmingly candid, warmly chatty, movingly vulnerable account of one man's willed encounter with the barriers we use to keep what we fear at bay. The narrative's slow burn of suspense will intrigue anyone who loves trekking, birdwatching, ancient Roman history, or armchair traveling. More importantly, Royalty is a kindhearted father, a searching son, a thoughtful and highly knowledgeable scholar and teacher, and most of all, a deeply human soul, earnestly grappling with profound loss and grief. His wisdom, generosity, and heartfelt humanity shine."
“When Bob Royalty’s father commits suicide, it sends ripples through his life for the next twenty-five years. Walking Hadrian’s Wall is a travel memoir that explores this moment of his history against the bucolic backdrop of a walk along Hadrian’s Wall in England, a journey through Roman antiquity that proves restorative and healing. Join Royalty in this introspective memoir about family, trauma, love, and loss, and what to do when obstacles come your way. For anyone who seeks to understand issues of mental health and the walls that often separate us, I can’t endorse this book enough.”
“How do you come to terms with a father's suicide? In Bob Royalty's case, it took time (25 years!), a strenuous walk across England, and the courage to talk about it in public. As readers, we are privileged to accompany Royalty on his journey of reconciliation as he pushes back against the forces that build walls to separate us from others, from our loved ones, and from our own deepest fears and hopes.”
“Bob Royalty starts his moving, meditative travel memoir with the suicide of his father. It might be a dour beginning, but what he does with sorrow—the sorrows every family experiences in some way—is literary alchemy. This is a thoughtful book to be placed beside Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines or Colin Fletcher’s The Man Who Walked Through Time. It’s also as full of fascinating historical fact and the wonders of nature as a dime novel is full of action. Saying the book is literally about walking Hadrian’s Wall or birdwatching, is akin to saying Thoreau’s Walden is about cabin camping. The journey outward is always the journey inward. Read this for its warmth, its humanity, its connection to us all.”
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