Books: Obsession

THOMAS MORE by Richard Marius Knopf; 562 pages; $22.95

There is a drawing of Thomas More dating from 1527, just eight years before Henry VIII had him beheaded for refusing to recognize the King's right to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Hans Holbein's sketch shows a prosperous Londoner in a fur-trimmed robe, surrounded by his family and his possessions—silver dishes in the cupboard, and a shelf or two of those rare luxuries, books. Mounted on the wall, dangling above More's head like a sword, hangs a clock.

Holbein could not have...

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