Roger Bacon

Roger Bacon

Friar Roger Bacon is a conjuror, scholar and, to the wizard Prospero, an advisor and old friend [The Face in the Frost]. Described as having a stout, ruddy-faced, with either a bald spot or a badly trimmed tonsure, Bacon loves good food and drink (perhaps a good Snake-Year Sherry) and is a careful thinker, usually able to keep one step ahead of any foe.

Background

Bacon is a Franciscan monk and spends time in England, with his home base being Dunfathersbairn Abbey in Northern Scotland [The Dolphin Cross; Magic Mirrors; 193]. There he maintains a small laboratory for pratciing with brazen heads [Face; 14] and magic alarm bottles [Dolphin; 192]. When Dunfathersbairn’s Abbot relunctantly allows the monk to again travel unto the Northern Kingdom, he asks why Bacon became a monk. Bacon’s reply: “A man has to hang his hat somewhere” [Dolphin; 193].

Through events unrecorded, Bacon met and befriended the wizard Prospero, who lives in the Southern Kingdom of a country's whose name is unknown and unimportant. Bacon's preferred method of travel is seeking passage on fishing boats [Face; 11; Dolphin; 193]. At the time of Face, Bacon “had been in the North Kingdom for the last three years, and before that he had in England for three years” [Face; 10].

Personality

Bacon comes across a more-competent practitioner of enchantments (his ability to transform ordinary garden vegetables into livable horse-drawn coaches) though he does have occasional setbacks, including allowing himself to be temporary captured by Melichus’ henchmen, exorcising a town from the spirit of witch, and an experiment with a hard-of-hearing brass head that nearly got him run out of England [Face; 14].

Inspiration

Bellairs’ version of Bacon is based on some of the more legendary aspects of the real Franciscan monk Roger Bacon (c. 1214- 1294) whose intelligence and inventiveness earned him the nickname “the astounding Doctor.” Much of this legendary material was attributed to Bacon after his death, specifically during the 16th Century when his fame as an occultist really flowered, along with the expansion Renaissance magic, and popular astrology in Elizabethan England. Bellairs also appears to be mixing-and-matching fragments from England’s history to populate his fictional country. For example, although we’re introduced to Roger Bacon, who supposedly lived in the 13th Century, the Northern Kingdom features a Heptarchy, modeled after 9th Century Britain.

The character of Bacon first appeared in The Face in the Frost. Writing in 1973, author Lin Carter said that Bellairs had produced a prequel "which tells how his diabolic duo first became friends." The prequel piece was to be included in Carter’s juvenile fantasy anthology Magic Kingdoms but neither the anthology or short story were ever published. Bacon was briefly seen in chapter four of The Dolphin Cross, the unfinished sequel to Face that was featured in a 2009 anthology of Bellairs' books from the 1960s.

The historical Bacon has been referenced in a number of other books by Bellairs and Strickland: