Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters (2 volume set)
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.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.
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 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.
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
Soldier, journalist and author Jan Morris is one of the finest travel writers of the post-war era. This sympathetic biography by her long-term literary agent encapsulates the extraordinary career of a writer who, as James Morris, brought back news of the conquest of Everest in 1953 before undergoing the gender reassignment described in her candid memoir Conundrum. The text is illustrated with charming 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 queen 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
The author of To Kill a Mockingbird remained a reclusive figure despite the novel’s success. This biography sheds light on her enigmatic character, her relations with Truman Capote and her editor Tay Hohoff, the death of her beloved sister Alice, and the controversy around her former agent’s acquisition of the Mockingbird copyright. Fully revised and updated, it includes the surprise publication of her first novel, long believed lost, in 2015, shortly before she died. Slightly off-mint.
A Life Revisited
Graham Greene called him ‘the greatest novelist of my generation’; Hilaire Belloc thought he was possessed by the devil. Written with the family’s support and drawing on unpublished letters, diaries and memoirs, this new biography reassesses the life and career of the author of Brideshead Revisited: his troubled relationship with his father, his early homosexual affairs, his conversion to Catholicism, wartime service, happy second marriage, drug-induced madness, and his sharp tongue and devastating wit.
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.
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.
A House in St John's Wood
In Search of My Parents
The life of Stephen Spender was rich in experience – and contradictions. This affectionate, moving and often critical memoir by his son charts the poet’s friendship with Auden and Isherwood, his adventures in pre-war Germany, and his later life as a grandee of literary London. The author also probes the mysteries of his parents’ relationship: while married to the concert pianist Natasha Litvin, Spender pursued a series of affairs with young men.
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, the novelist Gore Vidal dominated American letters. Prolific, patrician, proudly gay and devastatingly witty, he was a withering critic of successive US administrations from his self-imposed exile in Italy. Drawing on 30 years’ friendship and unpublished letters and diaries, this candid, richly entertaining biography charts 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.
The poems and memoirs of Siegfried Sassoon have done much to shape our perception of the First World War as callous, unjust and unnecessary. This magisterial biography charts his upbringing, his military service, his time in the Scottish hospital for shell-shocked officers where he befriended Wilfred Owen, and his later life. The result is a perceptive portrait of a complex man who was both a war hero and a pacifist, a product of the establishment and its fiercest critic.
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.