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.
Part of the Critical Lives series, this illustrated book explores the key moments in Genet’s life, where his political beliefs were most prominent. Genet’s championing of marginalized people was made clear in works such as Our Lady of the Flowers and The Screens and his provocative writing, theatre and film projects influenced numerous writers and directors.
We have a great deal of information on Geoffrey Chaucer's busy and eventful life – from the important offices he held while doing the king's business to his capture in battle and indictment for rape. In the first volume in his Brief Lives series, Peter Ackroyd shows that the real-life figure is often at odds with Chaucer's persona, presented in his literary works as a bookish and self-deprecating poet.
The Best Minds of My Generation
A Literary History of the Beats
The poet Allen Ginsberg was a central figure in the ‘Beat Generation’ that revolutionized American literature in the 1950s, and in the 1970s he undertook a series of lectures on its history. Collected here, they form a discursive and revelatory first-hand account of the movement. Alongside Ginsberg’s thoughts on sex, politics, poetry and jazz are intimate portraits of the writers Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady. Slightly off-mint.
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.
Passage Across the Mersey
Helen Forrester wrote vividly about her family's harrowing struggles in Depression-era Liverpool in her bestselling memoir Twopence to Cross the Mersey. Now, drawing upon her carefully kept papers and letters, her son Robert Bhatia recounts the surprising life she went on to live, initially in India, and later in Canada, and in doing so reveals his parents' touching love story.
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.
Kathleen and Frank
The Autobiography of a Family
Using his mother’s diary and letters, the novelist Christopher Isherwood relates the story of his parents’ marriage: how Kathleen, the lively daughter of a successful wine merchant, fell in love with Frank, the shy, artistic son of a country squire. This family history evokes an Edwardian world of amateur music-making, rising hemlines and social change – a world brought to an end by the Great War during which Frank Isherwood was killed.
Not The Whole Story
‘Suddenly, I am old…’ In this long-awaited memoir, the bestselling author of Land Girls and many other novels, short stories and plays looks back over her remarkable life. With characteristic compassion and nuanced observation, she recounts her eccentric childhood, the unconventional marriage of her film-star father and polyglot, party-loving mother, her time as a reluctant debutante, her first forays into journalism, and her successful career in advertising, film and television.
Love from Boy
Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother
Roald Dahl wrote his first letter to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, when he was nine, and the correspondence continued into his adult life. This carefully chosen selection, accompanied by photographs and biographical information, charts his wartime service in the Royal Air Force, his time in Hollywood and his budding literary career. The collection offers touching evidence of the bond between mother and son, and shows the development of Dahl’s fantastical imagination and dark sense of humour. Off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Letters of TS Eliot
Volume III: 1926–1927
TS Eliot entrusted the selection and editing of his letters to his wife Valerie, and in these volumes she presents the correspondence in chronological order, with detailed notes and, at the end of each volume, biographical notes on the correspondents, an index of correspondents and a general index. During the crucial years covered by Volume III, Eliot set a new course for his life and work: he was received into the Church of England and naturalized as a British citizen; and there was a new manner and vision in his poetry, with the first of the Ariel poems, 'Journey of the Magi' in 1927.
Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming's Jamaica
Ian Fleming first visited Jamaica as a wartime naval intelligence officer, and later bought Goldeneye, where he lived for two months a year and penned his James Bond novels. This book explores how his time on the island influenced his work, notably the three novels he set there, but also depicts a colony edging towards independence and the attitudes of Fleming’s friends (and lovers), including Noël Coward, the Oliviers and Errol Flynn.
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.)
Keeping On Keeping On
Alan Bennett's sharp, funny, humane observations have made him one of the foremost chroniclers of modern British life. This collection includes his diaries from 2005 to 2015, the decade that saw his civil partnership, four premieres at the National Theatre, and the filming of The Lady in the Van. It also contains his provocative sermon on private education, his darkly comic radio play Denmark Hill and his reflections on his 25-year collaboration with the director Nicholas Hytner.
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.
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.
The Second I Saw You
The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner
In 2000 the British Library uncovered a cache of letters and a memoir documenting the previously unknown love affair between the First World War poet Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner, a passionate and unconventional young artist. Sensitively compiled from their own words, this book tells – for the first time – their tragic story of love, conflict and loss, and provides a revealing insight into the life of the poet against a backdrop of a world on the brink of war.
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.
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.
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 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; and Charlotte’s portable desk, her passionate letters to her married lover, and the bracelet containing locks of Emily’s and Anne’s hair all bear the imprint of their personalities and imaginations. Off-mint.
Letters to the Lady Upstairs
Mme Marie Williams, the wife of an American dentist, lived in the apartment directly above Marcel Proust’s in 102 Boulevard Haussmann and, despite their proximity, Proust and Mme Williams wrote to one another. Proust’s were often about the noise, yet always exquisitely expressed and often accompanied by flowers; the 23 letters are presented here with a foreword by Jean-Yves Tadié. Translated, with an afterword, by Lydia Davis.
The Traveller on the Hill-top
Mary Howitt: The Famous Victorian Authoress
Her Staffordshire Quaker upbringing gave Mary Howitt (1799–1888) material for the childrens’ stories that made her famous. It is explored here, as are her travels with her journalist husband William, and friendships with Byron, Wordsworth, Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen, whose work she translated.
To Cambridge and Beyond – A Writer's Memoir
In this erudite memoir, the screenwriter and novelist charts his journey from Chicago via Cambridge to Fleet Street, where the ambition and romantic yearnings of his youth were followed by the first taste of success with his Oscar-winning screenplay for Darling.
Lady Chatterley's Villa
DH Lawrence on the Italian Riviera
In November 1925, in search of a healthy climate, DH Lawrence arrived in the Italian resort of Spotorno with his wife Frieda. Drawing on recently discovered letters, this book tells the story of the next six months, in which the aristocratic Frieda’s affair with a muscular Italian army officer would plant in Lawrence’s mind the germ of the idea that became Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
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 Poets' Daughters
Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge
Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge were the daughters of friends, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and were lifelong companions themselves. Drawing on many unpublished sources, this dual biography reveals that while both women were devoted to maintaining their fathers' literary reputations, living in the shadow of such great legacy led to struggles including anorexia, drug addiction and depression.
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.
After a Funeral
Diana Athill had read Waguih Ghali’s novel, Beer in the Snooker Club, long before she met and fell in love with him. Love turned to friendship, and Ghali, or ‘Didi’, carried on living in her flat, where he ultimately took his own life. Published 13 years later, this is Athill’s honest account of the three years they spent together.
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.
Time to be in Earnest
A Fragment of Autobiography
PD James (1920–2014) was one of the most stylish and intelligent crime writers of her generation, and an influential figure in politics, culture and the media. In this, her only autobiographical work, she considers the year leading up to her 78th birthday and looks back over her past: growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, giving birth during an air raid, working for the Home Office forensic department, and her career as a novelist.
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.
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.
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.
The Shadow in the Garden
A Biographer's Tale
Reflecting on the pursuit of literary biography, James Atlas recalls his childhood and early compulsion to study the lives of other writers, including the American poet Delmore Schwartz and the novelist Saul Bellow. He also reflects on the work of historical biographers, from Plutarch’s Lives to Boswell’s Samuel Johnson and Richard Holmes’s Coleridge, offering an insight into a profession that usually remains in the shadows.
The Lost Landscape
A Writer's Coming of Age
In this candid and moving memoir, one of America’s most acclaimed novelists recounts her tough rural upbringing in upstate New York. Through the eyes of her younger self, the book evokes the emotions of childhood and adolescence, from early friendships to her first encounters with death. Recalling her burgeoning desire to tell stories about the world and the people she meets, Oates reveals how those experiences coloured her later writing.
Letters to the Lady Upstairs
No. 102 Boulevard Haussmann is an elegant address in the eighth arrondissement of Paris. Upstairs lives Madame Williams, with her second husband and her harp; downstairs, Marcel Proust is trying to write In Search of Lost Time. Between 1909 and 1919, a correspondence that starts with a request for silence develops into a touching friendship, discussing books, music, domestic arrangements, illness, and the sadness of losing friends in the war.
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.
Agatha Christie: A Life in Theatre
Agatha Christie's fame as a writer of detective fiction has obscured her theatrical work; the long-running hit The Mousetrap is just the best-known of a string of ventures that established her as the most successful female playwright of all time. Filled with extracts from unpublished plays and letters, this well-researched book charts her childhood theatre-going experiences, her first attempts to write for the stage and her subsequent popularity. Extensive endnotes can be downloaded from the publisher's website.
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.
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.
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.
The distinguished Beckett scholar Gerry Dukes presents a photographic biography of one of the most interesting and challenging writers of the 20th century. Illustrated with family snapshots, formal portraits and many informal photographs taken during rehearsals and performances of his plays, the book traces Beckett’s life from his birth in Dublin in 1919 to his death in Paris, his adopted home, in 1989.
Flamboyant, eccentric and driven by nervous energy, Wilkie Collins was one of the great novelists of the Victorian era. Peter Ackroyd follows 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.
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.
The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago has sold millions, but the true story behind its famed lovers has never been told. Drawing on previously neglected sources and original interviews, this scrupulously researched account breaks the family’s long silence about the author’s affair with Olga Ivinskaya to reveal how, on her release from Stalin’s gulags, the writer refused to leave his wife, channelling his thwarted passion into his great novel instead.
A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
If there was ever a marriage made in heaven, it was that of Dame Iris Murdoch, philosopher and novelist, and John Bayley, Professor of English, literary critic and novelist. Their life together was cruelly interrupted as Iris began, in her own words, 'sailing into the darkness' of Alzheimer's disease. In this frank and moving memoir, written before Iris's death, John Bayley recalls their marriage and describes how they coped after the onset of Alzheimer's in 1994.
Blue Touch Paper
Born in 1947, David Hare is one of Britain’s foremost playwrights and screenwriters. With warmth, humour, and characteristically dazzling prose, this memoir vividly evokes his Anglo-Catholic upbringing in a suburban Hastings ‘as vanished as Victorian England’, against the backdrop of a time in which faith in empire, Christianity, hierarchy and deference were being swept away. It also charts his early struggles to become a writer – and the high price he and those around him paid for that decision.
Johnson and Boswell
A Biography of Friendship
'No, no, sir, that will not do. You are good-natured but not good-humoured. You are irascible.' The friendship between the great lexicographer and his pleasure-loving Scottish biographer is one of the most celebrated in literary history. Drawing on everything they wrote to and about each other, this study charts the warm, complex and often competitive relationship of this oddly matched pair, from their first meeting in 1763 to the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson in 1791.
This Long Pursuit
Reflections of a Romantic Biographer
In this ‘inside account of a biographer at work’, the renowned biographer of Coleridge and Shelley, Richard Holmes, reflects upon the principles that have guided his work, his life and his ‘strange, unappeased sense of some continuous, intense and inescapable pursuit’. He goes on exploring the art of biography through essays on five women, Margaret Cavendish, Zélide, Madame de Staël, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Somerville, and the ‘afterlives’ of Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake and the painter Thomas Lawrence.
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 Editor's Life
For half a century, Diana Athill edited, coaxed, nursed and, at times, coerced a succession of novelists from Jean Rhys to Timothy Mo into producing their finest work. Elegant, clear-sighted and self- deprecating, her memoirs offer a wise and often very funny account of a life in publishing; a life in which the parade of literary luminaries takes second place to Athill's sheer love of language and literature.
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.
Primo Levi's Resistance
Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy
Primo Levi is admired for his powerful testimony of survival in Auschwitz, but he was more than a witness. For three months in 1943, he was an anti-Nazi partisan fighter, but neither he nor his biographers have said much about this episode. Combining investigative flair with profound empathy, this pioneering book unearths the ‘ugly secret’ that haunted Levi for the rest of his life, and provides an insight into both Resistance politics and the moral complexity of his work.
Friends of Alice Wheeldon
The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George
Sheila Rowbotham’s 1986 play Friends of Alice Wheeldon dramatized the trial of a Derby socialist and feminist accused by an undercover agent during the First World War of plotting to kill the prime minister, Lloyd George. This new edition includes a carefully researched historical introduction that describes the interaction between workplace militants and anti-war activists, the intrigues of politicians and the intelligence agencies, and the campaign to clear Wheeldon’s name.
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 Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
Admirers and detractors use the same words to describe Jessica ‘Decca’ Mitford: subversive, muckraker, mischief-maker. Born into an aristocratic family, she eloped at 19 with Winston Churchill’s nephew. While her sisters Unity and Diana were drawn to fascism, Decca became a communist, civil-rights activist and investigative journalist in the United States. Full of incident and anecdote, this biography recounts a remarkable life lived at the epicentre of the major events of 20th-century history.
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.
A Dublin Memoir
Having been born in Wexford, the young John Banville found Dublin ‘all the more alluring’ and the novelist’s memories stretch back to childhood trips in the 1950s, when the city, although poverty-stricken at the time, held magical promise for a boy. In this combination of vignettes from his own past, his historical investigations of Dublin and Paul Joyce’s photographs, Banville asks ‘What transmutation must the present go through in order to become the past?’
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells
The Best of Early Vanity Fair
In the course of its 100-year history, Vanity Fair magazine has been a synonym for intelligence, wit and stylish writing, and its contributors have included some of the greatest names in world literature. This selection from its early issues includes F Scott Fitzgerald on what a magazine should be, DH Lawrence on women, Aldous Huxley on ‘What exactly is modern?’ and Dorothy Parker on peak, waspish form.
Naked in the Marketplace
The Lives of George Sand
The first woman in Europe to become a bestselling novelist, George Sand was the author of nearly 90 works of fiction, yet her literary fame was inseparable from the notoriety of her personal life. The scandal of leaving her husband and children for an 18-year-old lover was followed by liaisons and friendships with Alfred de Musset, Chopin, Balzac and Flaubert. This skilful, sympathetic biography demonstrates how her genius and passions were intertwined, lending power and psychological depth to her fiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Letters of TS Eliot
Volume II: 1923–1925
TS Eliot entrusted the selection and editing of his letters to his wife Valerie, and in these volumes she presents the correspondence in chronological order, with detailed notes and, at the end of each volume, biographical notes on the correspondents, an index of correspondents and a general index. The prolific and varied correspondence in this second volume reflects Eliot's profoundly influential work as editor of the Criterion and cultural commentator. It demonstrates not only the emerging continuities between his thinking as poet and essayist, but also their relation to his friendships and personal circumstances.
The Poets' Daughters
Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge
Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge were lifelong friends. They were also the daughters of best friends, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poetic geniuses who shaped the Romantic age. Drawing on many unpublished sources, this dual biography charts for the first time the lives and friendship of these two remarkable women. Devoting their energies and talents to their fathers' literary reputations, they also wrestled with the darker legacy of fame, including anorexia, drug addiction and depression.
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.
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 groundbreaking 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.
Ranging from Switzerland to Jamaica, and peopled with luminaries such as Winston Churchill and John F Kennedy, the life of Ian Fleming is as dramatic as that of his creation James Bond. Drawing on direct access to Fleming's family and friends, the acclaimed biographer Andrew Lycett charts his schooling at Eton, his secret work in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War, and his brilliant career as a novelist to produce a portrait of the enigmatic man who invented 007. Off-mint.
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.
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas
From the 'happy shambles' of 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 family, friends and writers, artists and musicians who knew him well. Structured around three portraits made by Thomas's close friend, the artist Fred Janes, these 'three lives' describe another side of the drunken hell-raiser, emphasizing instead the impact that Thomas had on those closest to him.
Revolt in the Desert
Great Writers on the Great War
This account of the war in Arabia between 1916 and 1918 was written by one of its most extraordinary participants, Lawrence of Arabia. It describes his life among the Arab tribesmen and the daring raids on desert outposts, the demolition of railway lines and the opening of 'the road to Damascus' that led to the overthrow of the Turks in the Middle East.
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.
Shakespeare's Tremor and Orwell's Cough
Diagnosing the Medical Groans and Last Gasps of Ten Great Writers
John J Ross MD approaches the topic of writers and disease from a medical perspective, 'diagnosing the medical groans and last gasps of ten great writers': Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, the Brontës, Hawthorne, Melville, Yeats, Jack London, James Joyce and Orwell.
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.
Living on Paper
Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934–1995
The philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) would spend up to four hours a day on her correspondence, writing to friends, lovers, students, fans and even casual acquaintances. This selection of her letters, edited and introduced by Avril Horner and Anne Rowe, gives a kaleidoscopic portrait of a life lived to capacity and marked by numerous emotional imbroglios and intense friendships with fellow philosopher Philippa Foot and novelist Brigid Brophy, alongside a long and stable marriage to John Bayley.
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.
Hunter S Thompson
An Insider's View of Deranged, Depraved, Drugged Out Brilliance
From military sportswriter to roving correspondent for the National Observer, from quasi Hells Angel to counterculture author and gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson led a life of legend. Hunter S. Thompson: The Glory Years tells the remarkable insiders story.
While Edna O'Brien's brilliant debut novel The Country Girls (1960) scandalized Ireland and was promptly banned, she has come to be regarded as one of that country's finest writers. In this frank memoir, she looks back with warmth and humour on a passionate life lived to the full. In the sparkling, evocative prose that characterizes her fiction, she recalls her rural childhood and family life, her writing, her travels, and her encounters with pop stars, Hollywood legends and literary lions. Off-mint.
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 Children of Lovers
A Memoir of William Golding by his Daughter
The Nobel Prizewinning author of Lord of the Flies was a famously acute observer of children. What was it like to be his daughter? In this frank and engaging family memoir, Judy Golding recalls growing up with this brilliant, loving and sometimes difficult parent through the years that saw his transformation from an impecunious schoolteacher to a bestselling novelist. Looking back on their warm, humorous and volatile family life, she sheds light on the internal conflicts that fuelled Golding's writing.
Great Authors: Charles Dickens
Three DVD Set
Charles Dickens's own experiences bear comparison to those of some of his characters, and this BBC box set explores his colourful biography in a series of films. The three DVDs include a revealing drama-documentary examining the life of the author (played by Anton Lesser), a dramatized narration of A Christmas Carol and a 1999 adaptation of David Copperfield, the most autobiographical of his novels, starring Bob Hoskins and Daniel Radcliffe. 3 DVDs total duration 8 hrs 30 min.
Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy
Christopher Isherwood was a world-famous novelist when he met Don Bachardy on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. Despite a 30-year age gap, they lived as an openly gay couple in closeted Hollywood. In these charming letters, Isherwood is the stubborn old workhorse Dobbin, Bachardy the playful young Kitty. Candid and affectionate, they draw the reader into the private world of the Animals, offer gossipy sketches of Isherwood's writer and actor friends, and chart Bachardy's burgeoning career as a painter.
The Parson's Daughter
Jane Austen was a clergyman's daughter, related to other clergy, born and brought up in a parsonage, and many of the attitudes expressed in her novels reflect this directly or indirectly. In this full- length biography, Irene Collins pays particular attention to Austen's early life and influences in order to understand 'the depth and spontaneity of her religious commitment', and presents the novelist as a woman whose 'lively and practical' religion enhanced her understanding of human nature.
Martin Amis's life is itself the stuff of fiction. Son of one of the most popular novelists of the post-war era, he forged a groundbreaking style of writing that owes little to his father, or to anyone else. This absorbing biography offers the real Martin Amis – elegant, tortured, kind, aloof, loved by women and devoted family man. It evaluates the unique achievement and wide-ranging influence of his menacing novels, and discloses the autobiographical thread that runs through his work.
The Life of Irene Nemirovsky
The discovery and publication of Suite Francaise in 2004 created a sensation, and revived interest in its author, a celebrated novelist of the 1930s whose work had fallen into neglect since her death in Auschwitz. Drawing on interviews, untapped archives, and Nemirovsky's diaries, this authoritative biography tells a story as gripping and tragic as any of her novels, from her childhood in Kiev and emigration to France after the Revolution, to the heights of literary fame and her deportation by the Nazis.
From A Journal of Love
Spanning October 1932 to November 1934, this is the unexpurgated diary of Anaïs Nin in which she deals openly with her various sexual relationships and their complex psychological consequences. A remarkable record of erotic freedom, the Journal describes Nin's incestuous relationship (now disputed by scholars) with her father, the pianist Joachin Nin, affairs with the writer Antonin Artaud and two analysts, and serious infatuations with her cousins, one of them a girl.
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.