Lady Byron and Her Daughters
Thrown out of home by her husband, Lord Byron, Annabella Milbanke defied the gossip of Regency England to forge a new role as a social reformer. This biography records how, after a rebellious adolescence and volatile marriage, she went on to found the country’s first infants’ and co-operative schools, and campaign against slavery. She was also a talented mathematician, a skill she passed on to her daughter Ada Lovelace, now hailed as a pioneer of computing.
A Literary Life of Jan Morris
Structured more thematically than a conventional biography, Derek Johns’s book explores the life of the soldier, journalist, travel writer, essayist and historian Jan Morris (born James Morris in 1926) through her work, with quotations from books such as Pax Britannica (1968), Conundrum (1974) and Fisher’s Face (1995); a study of her hero, Admiral ‘Jackie’ Fisher; and line drawings by Jan Morris herself.
A Traveller in Two Worlds
Volume Two: The Tinker and the Student
This second volume picks up Williamson’s story with his second marriage, to the young American folklorist Linda Headlee, whose energy and encouragement brought his Traveller tales to a national and eventually a global audience through festivals, radio and print. Slightly off-mint.
A Traveller in Two Worlds
Volume One: The Early Life of Scotland's Wandering Bard
In conversation with the author David Campbell, Williamson recalls his childhood in the Traveller community, where he heard his first stories; his life as an itinerant labourer; his elopement with his cousin Jeannie; and his grief at her death in 1971. Slightly off-mint.
'Anger is Not About...'
'Anger is not about,’ wrote John Osborne in his final play. ‘It is mourning the unknown.’ In the 1950s and ’60s Osborne shocked and delighted British theatregoers, reflecting the unease of a changing nation, but by the 1980s he was out of step with his times. Drawing on interviews with friends and colleagues, this biography explores the rage at his provincial upbringing that fuelled his creativity, and the struggles with alcohol and debt that undermined it.
Inside The Bloody Chamber
On Angela Carter, the Gothic and Other Weird Tales
Living in Bath during the 1970s, the novelist Angela Carter and the cultural historian Christopher Frayling were drawn together by a shared interest in the macabre. Starting with a memoir of their midnight discussions and a trip to the cinema to see Murnau’s Nosferatu, this collection of articles, essays and lectures explores the themes – folk tales, Gothic literature, wolves, vampires and puppets – that fascinated them both and informed Carter's short-story collection The Bloody Chamber.
The Spirit of Self-Help
A Life of Samuel Smiles
A worldwide sensation following its publication in 1859, Smiles’ Self-Help still influences our thinking about ‘the search for happiness’ in everyday life. This first biography of the man behind a modern phenomenon draws on his many other writings to trace how his ideas developed throughout his long life. It provides insights into the Victorians’ responses to their fast-changing world but also highlights the relevance of Smiles’ perspectives to today’s pressing questions about progress and freedom.
The Unauthorised Life
Ted Hughes (1930–1998) was one of the 20th century's greatest writers, the poet of The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal and Crow, but also a children's storyteller, translator, critic, letter writer and the husband of Sylvia Plath. In this biography, Bates draws on the complete archive of writings that Hughes left for posterity, exploring the mental landscape it reveals to give the full story of the poet's life as it was lived, remembered and shaped in his art.
The Brontë Cabinet
Three Lives in Nine Objects
A series of everyday objects preserved at the Brontë parsonage in Haworth provides the entry-point for this exploration of the sisters’ lives and writing. The tiny notebooks in which they inscribed their juvenile literary efforts; their sewing box; the walking sticks they used when striding the moors; Charlotte’s portable desk, her passionate letters to her married lover, and the bracelet containing locks of Emily and Anne’s hair, testimony to her grief after her sisters’ deaths. Off-mint.
An Uncommon Reader
A Life of Edward Garnett
‘Edward Garnett,’ wrote EM Forster, ‘occupies a unique position in the literary history of our age.’ Confidant and critic of DH Lawrence, Joseph Conrad and John Galsworthy, Garnett was both feared and admired. This biography explores his often stormy relations with the writers he championed; his wife Constance, the translator who introduced Tolstoy to English readers; and his son David, writer and key member of the Bloomsbury Group.
A Life of Thomas De Quincey
Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859) has been called the Last of the Romantics. Obsessed with Wordsworth and Coleridge, he ran away from school to pursue the poets, and moved into Dove Cottage when he was 24. This acclaimed biography follows the journalist’s wanderings through Soho, Ireland and the Lake District, exploring his fascination with the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811, and the opium addiction that gave rise to his most famous work.
The Reluctant Rebel
The author of Gulliver’s Travels was a man of complex character – a libertarian struggling with conservative beliefs, a church minister with complicated personal relationships, and a satirist who scorned the world yet sought to improve it. This biography follows his flight from war-torn Ireland in 1688 to the splendour and squalor of London, examining his shifting political allegiances and complicated love life to identify the roots of the ‘savage indignation’ that drove him.
Patrick Leigh Fermor
A Life in Letters
Celebrated for his travelogues, Patrick Leigh Fermor was also a prolific letter writer to friends including Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell and his lifelong companion Joan Rayner. Spanning 70 years, this collection exhibits his characteristic humour, learning, lust for life and love of language, and recounts such extraordinary incidents as his abrupt dismissal from Somerset Maugham’s villa, and the recovery by his Romanian lover of his long-lost travel diary. Off-mint with felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Battle Over Oscar Wilde's Legacy
For years after Oscar Wilde’s death his two closest friends and former lovers, Lord Alfred Douglas and Robert Ross, fought for control of his manuscripts, and reputation, and argued over who was to blame for his downfall. Drawing on previously unpublished information, Oscar’s Ghost uncovers a bitter feud that involved stalking, blackmail, lawsuits, witness tampering and prison, and influenced the way we perceive Wilde to this day.
E. M. Forster
A New Life
One of the mysteries of EM Forster's life is why, after the appearance of A Passage to India in 1924, he never published another novel, despite living to be 90. Based on new interviews and access to Forster's previously restricted diaries, this sensitive biography shows how deeply his ideas on individual freedom, love and sexuality permeated his subsequent career as an essayist, broadcaster and public intellectual, and how they have shaped the more tolerant society we enjoy today. Off-mint.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters - 2 Books
Letters written as editor of the school magazine, love letters, begging letters, letters to literary editors, fellow poets and friends: the collected letters of Dylan Thomas trace his life from the age of 16 to shortly before his death in New York in 1953, at the age of 39. Outspoken, and often indiscreet, they form the poet’s own narrative, telling of his love of Caitlin, his opinions on poets and poetry, and a life famously marred by drink and debt. Second edition. The two titles included in this set are: Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volume I: 1931–1939 (Read more...)Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volumes II: 1939–1953 (Read more...)
The Importance of Elsewhere
Philip Larkin's Photographs
The most widely read British poet of the 20th century, Philip Larkin was also a gifted amateur photographer. This handsome book reproduces the best of his images in short, thematic chapters arranged in chronological order to form a visual biography, capturing the places and people - including his lover Monica Jones and his friend Kingsley Amis - that meant the most to him. These haunting pictures are infused with the poignancy of everyday life that also informs his verse.
Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend
Widely recognized as the foremost authority on Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), Jean Moorcroft Wilson presents a single-volume biography of the poet, building on and adding to her earlier studies. Sassoon himself said that most people thought he died in the First World War; Wilson’s work traces his entire life, before, during and after the war, showing how his writings gained in intensity, and how his literary, artistic and musical friendships illuminate a significant segment of 20th-century cultural life. Slightly off-mint.
Appointment in Arezzo
A Friendship with Muriel Spark
The Scottish journalist Alan Taylor first met Muriel Spark (1918–2006) when he interviewed her in Arezzo, near her home in Tuscany, in 1990. In this memoir, he recounts his time spent with the novelist and her companion Penny, describing their parties, travels and idiosyncratic household arrangements. While offering an affectionate portrait of a witty, vivacious and intelligent woman, he does not shy away from controversy, particularly her bitter estrangement from her son.
The Lives of The Mitford Sisters
Born into privilege, the six Mitford sisters were the ‘bright young things’ of high society London in the 1920s and 1930s. As the shadow of Fascism crept over Europe and war loomed, the stark differences in their outlooks would reflect the extremes of an explosive political era. The first account in the post-Mitford era to explore the intertwined lives of the ‘six-pack’ reflects upper-class English life before and after the Second World War.
An Illustrated Life
This concise introduction to the life and work of Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) draws on manuscripts, artefacts and family photographs to describe his upbringing on the Welsh borders, his search for a profession and his military service, including his time at the Craiglockhart sanatorium where he met Siegfried Sassoon. Accompanied by some of his best-known poems, it explores the literary apprenticeship of the ‘poet’s poet’, and the growth of his reputation after his death just a week before the Armistice.
A Secret Sisterhood
The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf
Using letters and diaries, some previously unpublished, this biography uncovers the relationships that sustained four of the world’s greatest women writers: Jane Austen’s bond with the family servant and amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Brontë’s admiration for her unconventional schoolfriend Mary Taylor; the decade-long transatlantic correspondence between George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and the highly charged friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield.
Five Women Writers Who Changed the World
Examining the lives and careers of Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf, this study identifies key similarities between their experiences and explores the ways in which each defied social convention. Lyndall Gordon concludes that a sense of disconnection from society allowed each of these writers the creative freedom to view her world with fresh eyes, and released a radical new voice to the world.
Through a Glass, Darkly
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of All
When Sherlock Holmes’s creator turned to spiritualism to communicate with the dead, many thought him deluded. Re-examining old records, this book investigates the mediums and séances that gained widespread credence among many bereaved by the First World War.
Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson, and the End of a Beautiful Friendship
When Nabokov arrived in America as a penniless exile in 1940, Wilson was an acclaimed writer and critic who became his mentor. This account examines their close friendship and describes how it soured after the success of Lolita in 1955 brought Nabokov worldwide fame. Slightly off-mint with felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Banker's Sister
Jane Austen’s favourite brother Henry established himself as a banker in 1806, and built up an extensive business before it collapsed in the financial crash of 1816. He also acted as his sister’ agent, dealing with publishers and printers on her behalf. This dual biography explores for the first time the close connection between his financial and her literary career, to reveal how her novels draw on his experiences to highlight the economic speculations and crises of the Regency era.
A Biography of Daphne du Maurier
Fascinated by Daphne du Maurier from childhood, Tatania de Rosnay determined to write her biography in the style of a novel. Using the present tense, she charts the author’s girlhood dreams of being a boy, her rebellious years at a Paris finishing school, and the international success of Rebecca that transformed her life. The book brings to life the Cornish landscape she loved so much, and captures the charisma of her actor father and the force of her passionate friendships.
Now All Roads Lead to France
The Last Years of Edward Thomas
A close friend of Robert Frost, the troubled English writer Edward Thomas (b.1878) became a poet in 1914 thanks to his encouragement, and after the outbreak of the First World War almost emigrated to New England to join him. Instead, partly inspired by Frost's 'The Road Not Taken', Thomas enlisted and died in 1917 at the Battle of Arras. This award-winning biography explores the final five years of his life, which he lost so soon after finding his vocation.
The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion
The mid 20th century saw the emergence of a cohort of fiercely intelligent women writers in the United States. This collective biography profiles Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, Susan Sontag and Joan Didion, among others, and assesses their influence on American cultural and intellectual life.
A Literary Life of Jan Morris
A former soldier and journalist, Jan Morris became known as one of the finest travel writers of the post-war era. This biography by her long-term literary agent encapsulates the extraordinary career of an author who, as James Morris, brought back news of the conquest of Everest in 1953, and who wrote candidly about her gender reassignment in her memoir Conundrum. The text is illustrated with drawings from the visitor books kept at her Welsh home.
Elizabeth Jane Howard
A Dangerous Innocence
Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923–2014) wrote novels, including the popular Cazalet Chronicles, about what love can do to people, but the romantic happiness she sought always eluded her. Based on interviews with Howard, her family and friends, this sympathetic biography reveals the ‘dangerous innocence’ that led her into a troubled marriage to Kingsley Amis, charts her attempts to make sense of her life through writing, and illuminates the literary world in which she lived.
The Private World of Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer (1902–74) was the internationally bestselling author of Regency romance, but never gave interviews and kept her personal life intensely private. ‘You will find me,’ she said, ‘in my work.’ Drawing on unprecedented access to her correspondence and family archives, this biography reveals a formidable woman of Russian descent, with an impeccable sense of style, outspoken views, and a dislike of paying income tax that brought her into conflict with the Inland Revenue.
A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Scout to Go Set A Watchman
Despite the success of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee (1926–2016) remained a reclusive figure. This biography sheds light on her enigmatic character and her relations with Truman Capote and her editor Tay Hohoff. Fully revised and updated in 2016, this edition includes the death of her beloved sister Alice, the controversy around her former agent’s acquisition of the Mockingbird copyright, and the surprise publication shortly before she died of her first novel, long believed lost. Slightly off-mint.
The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann
Novelist, playwright, essayist and journalist, Klaus Mann explored the sinister appeal of Nazism in his chilling 1936 novel Mephisto, and was the first person to link racism and fascism with homophobia. This first English-language biography provides a powerful account of his tormented life, dealing frankly with his drug addiction and his troubled relationship with the overpowering figure of his father, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Thomas Mann, while shedding new light on his mysterious death.
The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot’s life was short in years but long on scandal. Best remembered as the author of some of the most explicit verse in the English language, he had, by the time he died of syphilis at 33, ‘swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls’. This comprehensive biography reveals another Rochester: a devoted if inconstant husband and father, a courageous naval officer, and a poet of deep intellectual curiosity.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume II: 1939–1953
The letters in this second volume cover the years of fame, the exhilaration and pain of Thomas’s tempestuous marriage to Caitlin Macnamara, his drinking and his hell-raising. They record the creation of Under Milk Wood, and the slide into alcoholism that claimed his life during a poetry-reading tour in New York.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume I: 1931–1939
Spanning Thomas’s Welsh childhood, his early career and marriage, this volume charts his growing confidence as a poet as he experiments with ideas, submits work for publication, and corresponds with prominent figures in the literary world, including TS Eliot, Stephen Spender and Edith Sitwell.
Jane Welsh Carlyle and Her Victorian World
A Story of Love, Work, Friendship, and Marriage
While Thomas Carlyle wrote great works of history, his wife looked after their Chelsea home, but professed to be happiest when ‘splashing off whatever is on my mind’. Jane Welsh Carlyle’s witty letters incorporated wry observations on London’s literati and made light of her unhappy marriage. Referencing 44 volumes of letters and journals, the author focuses her biography on the years 1843–49, the period of Jane’s ‘richest experience and development’.
The Man Who Was George Smiley
The Life of John Bingham
Spymaster, interrogator, investigator – the perfect inspiration for the perfect spy. This is the first full-length biography of the remarkable John Bingham, the heir to an Irish baronetcy who joined MI5 in 1940 and took part in many wartime missions. During the Cold War his skills became legendary and he shared his expertise with many novice spies, including David Cornwell, who found literary fame as John le Carré and who based George Smiley on his mentor.
The Genius of Jane Austen
Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood
Jane Austen loved the theatre, participated joyously in amateur theatricals, and learned much of her craft from a long tradition of English comic drama. This pioneering study sheds refreshing light on this neglected aspect of her art, and demonstrates how her dramatic dialogue, comic characters, clever plotting and theatrical exits and entrances have lent themselves so successfully to stage and screen. What emerges is a world not of prim manners and genteel calm, but of wild comedy and outrageous behaviour. Slightly off-mint.
An Author and a Gardener
The Gardens and Friendship of Edith Wharton and Laurence Johnston
This book charts the unlikely friendship between the novelist Edith Wharton – a much-photographed celebrity – and the publicity-shy garden designer Laurence Johnston. Illustrated with period photographs, maps and plans, it explores both the gardens they created, and the ones they visited in search of inspiration.
To Strive, to Seek, to Find
Tennyson was the most successful English poet of the Victorian age, adored by a vast readership that included the queen herself. Yet his success was neither the triumph of pure genius nor an accident of history – as this meticulous biography demonstrates, he skilfully crafted his own career. Charting his progress from Romantic radical to Poet Laureate, it shows how he transformed personal tragedy into poetry, and how he ultimately became a prisoner of the fame he so ardently desired.
The World of a Seductive Genius
‘Love is three quarters curiosity,’ said Giacomo Casanova, whose name has become a byword for seduction. Though he was born in poverty in Venice, his intelligence, ambition and charm gained him entry to the courts of England, Russia and France – and to the beds of countless beautiful, aristocratic women. This biography exposes his life in rich, intimate detail, and paints a dazzling portrait of 18th-century Europe from serving girls to kings and courtiers.
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making
More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks
The ingenious plots of Agatha Christie's mysteries continue to intrigue readers decades after they were written. How did she do it? Drawing on her unpublished notebooks, personal papers and letters, this book offers a unique insight into the mind and working methods of one of the world's most popular authors. Among the gems in these pages are Christie's own essay on Hercule Poirot, a chapter deleted from The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and a previously unseen Miss Marple story. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Through the Magic Door
Ursula Moray Williams, Gobbolino and the Little Wooden Horse
Ursula Moray Williams (1911–2006) wrote 68 children’s books – illustrating 30 of them – plus short stories, plays and poems. Best known for Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, she only stopped writing at 76, and died aged 95. This biography explores how Ursula’s upbringing – an identical twin, raised in a ramshackle mansion in the woods – influenced her ideas, drawing upon family anecdotes and Ursula’s unpublished letters and diaries to create a vivid picture of her fascinating life.
In Search of Sir Thomas Browne
The Life and Afterlife of the Seventeenth Century's Most Inquiring Mind
The major work of Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) is the Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646), a catalogue of ‘vulgar errors’ and their correction which, together with Urne-Buriall and The Garden of Cyrus, has charmed writers from Samuel Johnson to Jorge Luis Borges and Javier Marías. Here, another acolyte sets off in the footsteps of the erudite, witty and good-humoured Browne to rediscover his life and work through its diversity of themes, from medicine and human longevity to faith and melancholy. American-cut pages.
Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies
The Life of Gore Vidal
For the latter half of the 20th century, Gore Vidal’s writing was integral to American letters and politics, despite his self-imposed exile in Italy. Erudite and witty, he was critical of public life and successive US administrations. Drawing on 30 years’ friendship and unpublished letters and diaries, this biography looks back at his turbulent life and career, his friendships with John F Kennedy, Tennessee Williams and Princess Margaret, and his famous feuds with Truman Capote and Norman Mailer.
Poet, priest, inspirational teacher and indefatigable traveller, Peter Levi (1932–2000) was one of the most romantic and complicated of 20th-century Oxford characters. Relating his poetic development to his intense emotional life, this biography charts his Catholic upbringing, his friendships with Cyril Connolly, Iris Murdoch, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin, his often contentious membership of the Jesuit order (which he left to marry Connolly’s widow), and his tenure as Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
From St Louis to The Waste Land
'TS Eliot was never young': so begins Robert Crawford's superb biography of the young poet. Quoting extensively from poetry and prose, interviews and previously undisclosed memoirs, Crawford presents a full and detailed portrait of 'Tom' in his youth and early career, from his childhood in St Louis, Missouri, where he was born in 1888, to the publication of The Waste Land in New York and London in 1922.
From the Frontline
The Extraordinary Life of Sir Basil Clarke
Basil Clarke was an intrepid First World War correspondent and father of the public relations industry. This first-ever biography tells how he defied Kitchener’s ban on reporters in 1914 to live as an ‘outlaw’ in Dunkirk, reported from the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, and caused a global scandal by accusing the government of failing to enforce its naval blockade of Germany, before going on to create Britain’s first PR firm.
Letters to Véra
Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) first met Véra Slonim at an émigre ball in Berlin in 1923, they married in 1925 and stayed married until the novelist’s death in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1977. Ranging across topics from poetry to collecting the laundry, their correspondence, edited here by Olga Voronina and Nabokov’s biographer Brian Boyd, tells the story of a beguiling marriage of hearts and minds and sheds much light on Nabokov’s life and work as a writer. American cut pages and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge. Off-mint.
The Real Peter Pan
The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies
JM Barrie first encountered Michael Llewelyn Davies playing with his brothers in Kensington Gardens, and the young boy’s unworldly qualities made him the inspiration for Peter Pan. When Michael’s parents – the models for Mr and Mrs Darling – died one after the other, the enigmatic and by now very rich author offered himself as the boy’s guardian. What followed, as this meticulously researched biography reveals, was a dark tale of possessive love and Michael’s doomed efforts to free himself.
A Personal Memoir
The close and abiding friendship of Robert Harling and Ian Fleming was forged during the Second World War, when Harling was Fleming’s deputy in the commando unit dubbed ‘Fleming’s Secret Navy’. Described by Fiona MacCarthy in her foreword as ‘a master of obfuscation’, Harling fictionalized his own life and inspired characters – even elements of 007 – in Fleming’s fiction. This memoir of his friend provides an entertaining portrait of the creator of James Bond, but also a revealing self-portrait of Harling.
Where's the Truth
Letters and Journals, 1948–1957
In 1939 Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957), a disciple of Freud, fled from Nazi Germany to America, where he continued to pursue research into the climate, the effects of radiation and new therapeutic techniques. Presenting material from his diaries, letters and laboratory notebooks, this fourth volume of autobiographical writings covers the final decade of his life, when he was harassed and eventually jailed by the US authorities, who burned his research and banned the use of his experimental orgone energy accumulator.
Some Sort of Genius
A Life of Wyndham Lewis
Paul O’Keeffe presents a compelling account of the complicated life of Wyndham Lewis (1882–1957). The writer, artist and co-founder of the Vorticist movement was described by TS Eliot as ‘a man of undoubted genius, but genius for what it would be remarkably difficult to say’. Off-mint.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Poet and Revolutionary
‘Rise, like lions after slumber… Ye are many – they are few!’ Shelley is one of England’s most beloved Romantic poets, yet his work is infused with a fierce revolutionary politics. This biography explores the experiences that shaped his hatred of a system in which a few lived in luxury while the many suffered poverty and oppression, and traces his influence on radical movements and thinkers to this day.
Behind the Mask
The Life of Vita Sackville-West
Vita Sackville-West (1892–1962) defied categorization: lonely, imaginative girl growing up in the vast stately home of Knole; acclaimed novelist and poet; adored wife and mother; proud aristocrat; passionate lesbian; model for her lover Virginia Woolf's transsexual hero/ine Orlando; and recluse who found solace in her garden at Sissinghurst. This sympathetic biography unravels the extraordinary life and tangled relationships of a radical, sensitive and uncompromising woman who remained an enigma even to herself
The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies
The Nobel Prize-winning author of a dozen novels, William Golding is still remembered chiefly for his first dark vision of humanity, Lord of the Flies. Drawing on unpublished papers including the novelist’s private journal, this illuminating biography plumbs the sources of that darkness in the writer himself; a war hero who considered himself a monster, who battled depression and alcoholism, but put his faith in the imagination above all.
Flamboyant, eccentric and driven by nervous energy, Wilkie Collins was one of the great storytellers of the Victorian era. Peter Ackroyd charts Collins’s life and career from his childhood as the son of a well-known artist through his early struggles as a writer to his lifelong friendship with Dickens, and encourages readers to explore his less well-known works as well as the two masterpieces The Moonstone and The Woman in White. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge and American-cut pages..
Adventures in the Strand
Arthur Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine
In 1891, the first issue of The Strand magazine appeared; it was an immediate and massive success, mainly due to the debut of Sherlock Holmes in its pages. In this study of the relationship between Holmes's creator and the magazine, Mike Ashley first sketches the early career paths of Conan Doyle, the publisher George Newnes and editor Greenhough Smith before exploring their extraordinary achievement and Doyle’s subsequent 40-year association with The Strand up to his death in 1930.
A Centenary Celebration
Published to mark the centenary of the poet’s birth, this collection of specially commissioned essays celebrates the life and work of Dylan Thomas (1914–1953). In three parts, on his early and later life and his legacy, the 35 contributions include essays by biographers, critics and fellow poets; memoirs by a variety of people touched by Thomas’s genius, among them Rowan Williams, Philip Pullman, Griff Rhys Jones and Cerys Matthews; and a short poem by ex-US President Jimmy Carter.
How Oscar Wilde Was Shaped by the Women He Knew
Hailed as a gay icon and pioneer of individualism, Oscar Wilde was a staunch champion of gender equality, whose views were shaped by a series of remarkable, free-thinking women. This absorbing book tells the story of the women in his life: his extraordinary mother, Jane; his accomplished wife, Constance; the actress Lillie Langtree; and his niece Dolly, lover of fast cars, cocaine and foreign women.
Mad Mary Lamb
Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
One night in 1796, Mary Lamb killed her mother. Confined in various madhouses, she discovered a gift for writing, collaborating on the bestselling Tales from Shakespeare with her essayist brother Charles. This authoritative biography tells a story of madness, forgiveness and the redemptive power of the written word.
Ted & I
A Brother's Memoir
Ted Hughes and his brother Gerald grew up in the Yorkshire countryside, pitching tents, making fires, fishing and hunting rabbits. In this touching memoir, Gerald records those carefree days, during which the love of nature that informed Ted's poetry was born. Further chapters reflect on the poet's marriage to Sylvia Plath, and the triumphs and tragedies of his later years. The book includes the author's sketches, family photographs and a foreword by Ted and Sylvia's daughter, Frieda Hughes.
Maeve Binchy (1939-2012) was one of Ireland's best-loved novelists, whose sympathetic but unflinchingly honest portrayal of small-town life won the loyalty of millions of readers. This bestselling biography offers a privileged insight into her life, against the backdrop of her favourite character: Ireland. It charts Binchy's progress from girlhood in Dalkey to international acclaim, and reveals how she came to question the narrow dogma that surrounded her and find her own path to success.
1386 and the Road to Canterbury
Chaucer was not always the revered creator of The Canterbury Tales. As this meticulously researched history explains, until 1386 he was an obscure civil servant writing elegant verses for an aristocratic coterie in London. That year, a storm of personal, political and financial crises drove him into exile in Kent, where he embarked on a new kind of poetry: a verse narrative that gave voice to ordinary people and ensured his recognition as one of England’s greatest poets.
The Literary Churchill
Author, Reader, Actor
Although he is usually studied as a political figure, Churchill was a prolific author who won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature. The Literary Churchill offers detailed analysis of his writings and demonstrates the impact of reading and theatre-going on his political goals and methods. In particular, it reveals how the Prime Minister’s rhetoric and critical decisions during the Second World War were influenced by his appreciation of the power of theatrical metaphors and plot devices.
Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius
One of a trio of aristocratic, eccentric and artistically inclined siblings, Edith Sitwell is largely remembered for her severe and striking profile and for her exotic and extravagant costumes. This sympathetic and impressively researched biography uncovers her troubled upbringing, her religious beliefs, her passionate love affairs, and the deep pain she felt at two World Wars. Above all, however, it establishes the author of 'Still Falls the Rain' as a pioneering Modernist and a major English poet.
The World of Raymond Chandler
In His Own Words
Despite his fame as an author of superlative crime fiction, Raymond Chandler (1888–1959) never wrote an autobiography. This volume fills the gap, setting passages of the novels and short stories alongside excerpts from Chandler's letters to friends, publishers and fellow authors. They reveal his insights on writing, language and style; his views on women, Los Angeles and his private eye Philip Marlowe; and his experiences in Hollywood working with such directors as Hitchcock and Billy Wilder. American-cut pages.
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas
From student life in London in the early 1930s, this book tells the story of Dylan Thomas's life and afterlife through the words and images of the writers, artists and musicians that he grew up with. Structured around three portraits made by Thomas's close friend – and the author's father – Alfred Janes, the 'three lives' describe another side of the drunken hell-raiser, emphasizing instead the impact that Thomas had on the lives of those closest to him.
Dickens: London into Kent
Few writers have evoked the spirit of London and its Kentish hinterland as vividly as Dickens. Illustrated with photographs and maps, this book takes the reader on five guided walks through the capital in the footsteps of David Copperfield and Barnaby Rudge; out to suburbs such as Hampstead, Highgate and Greenwich; and on to the Medway Towns, Dickens's home at Gad's Hill and the Kentish marshes where Pip encountered Magwitch.
The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley never knew her mother, the pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who died two weeks after giving birth to her in 1797. Yet, as this groundbreaking dual biography demonstrates, the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women and the visionary who gave the world Frankenstein had much in common. Both defied convention, had passionate relationships with several men, bore children out of wedlock, lived in exile abroad – and both challenged the injustices faced by women. American-cut pages and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Dancing Fish and Ammonites
Memory and history have been Penelope Lively's terrain throughout a writing career that has spanned five decades. Here she looks back on her wartime childhood, her early love of archaeology and the sweeping social change she has witnessed. From the vantage of old age, she reflects on a lifetime's reading and writing, and contemplates six cherished objects, including fossil ammonites from a Dorset beach and an Egyptian potsherd decorated with leaping fish. (Previously published as Ammonites and Leaping Fish.)
John Updike (1932–2009) was the ultimate chronicler of suburban America. This eye-opening biography paints a captivating portrait of the writer and the man. Drawing on in-depth research and interviews with family, friends and colleagues, it reveals a surprising, contradictory character: a kind man with a vicious wit, a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive, and a private person compelled to spill his most intimate secrets on the printed page. American-cut pages and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Hemingway in Love
His Own Story
In 1961, a few weeks before Hemingway took his own life, AE Hotchner visited his old friend for the last time. What the writer told him formed the final piece of the mystery Hemingway had been revealing down the years: the story of the affair that destroyed his marriage, and the woman who haunted his life and fiction. Withheld for decades out of consideration for his widow, this frank account reveals an unknown Hemingway: humble, thoughtful and full of regret.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In this book from the Critical Lives series, Stephen Hart provides new insight into the life and work of the Colombian Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2014) and describes how the political struggles of Latin America influenced his writing, from One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) to Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2004).
The Children of Lovers
A Memoir of William Golding by his Daughter
Judy Golding, daughter of the novelist William Golding, famed for his Lord of the Flies, has written a frank memoir of her father, illuminating the impact of Golding's internal conflicts on his family – and the family's impact on him.
Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934–1961
In 1934, at the height of his fame, Ernest Hemingway bought a 42-foot motor yacht, Pilar, from a Brooklyn boatbuilder. Blending poetic sensibility with painstaking research, this New York Times bestseller charts the relationship between writer and boat through three marriages, the Nobel Prize, and all his triumph and tragedy; how he sailed the waters from Key West to Cuba, and hunted big-game fish and German U-boats; and how, in 1961, the yacht finally slipped away from him, along with life itself.
The Life of Rupert Brooke
Good-looking, charming and gifted, Rupert Brooke is the tragic embodiment of the generation lost between 1914 and 1918. His romantic war poetry stands in striking contrast to the work of more disillusioned contemporaries such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. But as this searching biography makes clear, his private letters reveal a far more troubled and misunderstood man, caught in a tangled web of secret affairs and mental instability.
Now All Roads Lead to France
The Last Years of Edward Thomas
A close friend of Robert Frost, the troubled English writer Edward Thomas (b.1878) became a poet in 1914 thanks to his encouragement, and after the outbreak of the First World War almost emigrated to New England to join him. Instead, partly inspired by Frost's The Road Not Taken, Thomas enlisted and died in 1917 at the Battle of Arras. This award-winning biography explores the final five years of his life, which he lost so soon after finding his vocation.
Mad Girl's Love Song
Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted
More than 50 years after her death, Sylvia Plath's poetry still has the power to disturb. This ground-breaking biography offers a comprehensive picture of her formative years before her marriage to Ted Hughes. Drawing on previously unavailable papers and exclusive interviews with friends and lovers, it charts her fierce ambition, her troubled relationship with her father, and her many love affairs and suicide attempts, to reveal the origins of a uniquely unsettling poetic voice.