One day George Arthur Rose, hack writer and minor priest, discovers that he has been picked to be Pope. He is hardly surprised and not in the least daunted. "The previous English pontiff was Hadrian the Fourth," he declares. "The present English pontiff is Hadrian the Seventh. It pleases Us; and so, by Our own impulse, We command."Hadrian is conceived in the image of his creator, Fr. Rolfe, whose aristocratic pretensions (he called himself Baron Corvo), religious obsession, and anarchic and self-aggrandizing sensibility have made him known as one of the great English eccentrics. Fr. Rolfe endured a lifetime of indignities and disappointments. However, in the hilarious and touching pages of this, his finest novel, he triumphs.
It is extraordinarily alive, even though it has been buried for twenty years. Up it rises to confront us…Only a first-rate book escapes its date…The book remains a clear and definite book of our epoch, not to be swept aside. — D.H. Lawrence
Frederick Rolfe alias Baron Corvo is certainly one of the most fascinating of those various literary curiosities of England. — Saturday Review