Sir Walter Raleigh: The Man Behind the Myths and Legends

Cover of Sir Walter Raleigh in Life and Legend

You’re invited to join us Thursday night for a look at Sir Walter Raleigh. Here’s a description.

Soldier, voyager, courtier, colonizer, politician, poet, historian, possible traitor—Sir Walter Raleigh (1554–1618) played many roles on the public stage of Elizabethan England. Historian Mark Nicholls, President and Librarian of St. John’s College, Cambridge University, will discuss a new biography of Raleigh he has co-authored that offers fresh insights and observations about a man whose spirit of adventure helped set the course of the history of North Carolina—a land he never visited but whose capital city bears his name.

5:00 p.m. Reception with display of items from the Library’s Sir Walter Raleigh Collection, lobby of Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

5:45 p.m. Program, Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Oops! ‘What I supposed to be solid’… wasn’t

On this day in 1865: As Raleigh awaits Sherman, Union Lt. George Round is sent ahead to set up a Signal Corps flag station. Scaling the eerily empty Capitol, Round makes a crucial misstep: “I … leaped gently to what I supposed to be the solid top of the dome,” he will write later. “I heard a sudden crash, and the top of the dome gave way beneath my feet. I had actually jumped into the circular glass skylight….

“The next instant I found myself grasping at railing and stonework and heard the broken glass of the skylight ring sharply on the stone floor of the rotunda one hundred feet below me.”

Round’s fall is broken by a wire net, and he survives with only “a terrible fright, a lacerated wrist and, on the next day, a lame shoulder.”