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.
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 Trip to Echo Spring
On Writers and Drinking
Having grown up in an alcoholic family, Olivia Laing felt drawn to investigate the link between drink and creativity through the lives and work of six great American authors: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver. In a journey across the USA that is both exploratory and redemptive, she asks whether writing and addiction are fuelled by the same inner dissatisfaction, and contemplates the possibility of recovery.
Safe in Wartime Devon
Deposited with an aunt in Devon in 1939, Angela (12) and Hugh McBride (3) saw little of their parents for the next five years, moving between various boarding schools and lodgings and finally joining their family after the war on a posting to Australia. This record of their unusual experience is told as two separate memoirs, one by each of the siblings, highlighting their different perspectives on an eventful but unsettled upbringing.
Life, Death and Myth
Rupert Brooke’s death aboard a hospital ship in the Aegean in April 1915 turned the handsome young soldier-poet into a national hero. Drawing on archival research, including letters and diaries still in private hands, this biography reveals a more troubled character than the guardians of his posthumous reputation allowed to be known: promiscuous, unsure of his sexuality, misogynistic, and at times seriously unstable.
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.
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.
A Life in Letters
One of the funniest writers of the 20th century, PG Wodehouse shied away from a biography. Drawing on unpublished sources, this definitive edition of his letters gives an unrivalled insight into his life and his comic creations. Covering his schooldays, his family's financial troubles, his musical comedy career in New York and the unhappy episode when, interned by the Germans, he was accused of broadcasting Nazi propaganda, it is a book every fan of Jeeves and Wooster will want.
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.
Drawing on his own youthful friendship with the novelist and hundreds of interviews with those who knew him, Andrew Turnbull recreates Fitzgerald’s itinerant childhood as his father sought work, his studies at Princeton, literary success, marriage to the troubled Zelda, and his struggle with alcoholism.
Diaries and Selected Letters
Much of Mikhail Bulgakov’s career was a struggle with Soviet censorship, and his greatest novel, The Master and Margarita, remained unpublished in his lifetime. These chronological extracts from his diaries and letters – their recipients included Stalin himself – run from 1921 to 1940, and record his initial success and subsequent fall from favour, including his interrogation by the secret police.
Theft by Finding
Diaries: Volume One
David Sedaris looks back to his youth to record his journey from drug-abusing dropout son of an eccentric Greek family in 1970s North Carolina to world-famous humorist. After sleeping under the stars while hitch-hiking around the USA, he lands a series of bizarre jobs before attending art college in Chicago. Social embarrassment, coming out as gay, muggings, fights and bruising encounters with bigotry are all related with dry, quizzical wit.
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 Great Charles Dickens Scandal
Dickens was celebrated as the champion of hearth, home and family love, yet in 1857 he abandoned his wife to live with a young actress, Nelly Ternan. Michael Slater reveals how the novelist’s family and friends succeeded in keeping the affair, and the many other women who caught his eye, a secret until the 1930s.
The Dawn Watch
Joseph Conrad in a Global World
The life and work of Joseph Conrad were shaped by migration, terrorism, revolution, nationalism, globalization and rapid technological development – forces that are still reshaping the world. Blending history, biography and travelogue, this book explores the novelist’s childhood and youth in Russian-occupied Poland, his experiences as a sea-captain, and his interest in global politics, to demonstrate why his books remain as relevant today as they were a century ago.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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 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.
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.
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.
The Disappearance of Émile Zola
Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case
One evening in 1898, Émile Zola fled Paris with nothing more than the clothes he stood in. Michael Rosen retraces the novelist’s footsteps from the Gare du Nord to a south London suburb; investigates the case of Alfred Dreyfuss, the Jewish officer he defended against false charges of treason; chronicles Zola’s year in England; and unravels his delicate relations with the two women in his life. Slightly off-mint.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 1906 to his death in Paris, his adopted home, in 1989.
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 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.
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.
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.
Oscar Wilde and his Circle
One of literature’s most witty and outspoken personalities, Oscar Wilde captivated late Victorian society. In this perceptive appraisal of Wilde and those around him – including Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beerbohm, Lillie Langtree and George Bernard Shaw – Simon Callow captures the spirit of one of Ireland’s most fêted, and ultimately tragic, literary lions. Rich in anecdote and incident, the book evokes the glamorous, decadent world of fin de siècle London.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Great Authors: Charles Dickens
Three DVD Set
This BBC box set explores Charles Dickens’s colourful life and work in three films: a drama-documentary presented by Dickens’s biographer, Peter Ackroyd; a dramatized narration of A Christmas Carol and a 1999 adaptation of David Copperfield, the most autobiographical of the novels, starring Bob Hoskins and Daniel Radcliffe. 3 DVDs total duration 8 hrs 30 mins.
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.
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.
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.
Writing Home and Untold Stories Box Set
This handsome set comprises Writing Home (1994), Bennett’s bestselling first collection of prose writings, including his diaries for 1980-1995 and The Lady in the Van; together with Untold Stories (2005), a second collection featuring poignant family memoirs and the author's diaries for 1996 to 2004. Slip-cased.
Shaw, Lady Gregory and the Abbey
A Correspondence and a Record
Bernard Shaw, who made his reputation in London, and Augusta Gregory, founder of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, are often seen as belonging to different worlds. But when Shaw’s play The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet was banned in England, it was to the Abbey that he turned. This complete edition of the witty, informal letters that passed between him and Lady Gregory sheds light on the politics of the day, and emphasizes Shaw’s important yet unrecognized contribution to the Irish theatre.
The Authentic Voice
As well as 21 papers originally given at the William Carleton Summer Festival, this volume on the great pre-Famine Irish writer contains contemporary writings, letters and documents about Carleton (1794–1869), a chronology and a publication history of his writings.
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.
Reading Chaucer's Poems
A Guided Selection By
Chaucer is justly regarded as the father of English poetry for his wit, vivid characterization and narrative verve. This selection includes The Parliament of Fowls, Troilus and Criseyde, The Legend of Good Women and generous extracts from The Canterbury Tales. A general introduction outlines what is known of his life and work, while each poem is preceded by an illuminating commentary and accompanied by a glossary explaining unfamiliar words.
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.
1386 and the Road to Canterbury
Chaucer was not always the revered creator of The Canterbury Tales. As this detailed history explains, until 1386 he was a civil servant writing elegant verses for an aristocratic coterie in London. That year, a series 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.
A Mysterious Something in the Light
The Life of Raymond Chandler
After a childhood in Chicago overshadowed by his father’s alcoholism, a public school education in England, the return to Los Angeles and a lucrative career in the oil business, Raymond Chandler (1888–1959) turned to writing in middle age. This biography follows Chandler’s uneven path to a late career as a writer and the fame of novels such as The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity, which raised crime fiction to the level of art.
Between the Sheets
Nine 20th Century Women Writers and their Famous Literary Partnerships
In her accounts of nine 20th century women and their literary partnerships, Lesley McDowell gives each a role – Hilda Dolittle is the ‘Novice’ in her affair with Ezra Pound, Anaïs Nin the ‘Mistress’ of Henry Miller, Rebecca West ‘Mother’ of HG Wells’s child – but none of them is labelled ‘victim’. These women writers, McDowell argues, ‘chose their own fates knowingly’ to further their own poetic consciousness and literary ambitions.