Splendours and Miseries
The flamboyant Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A has been at the heart of Britain’s high society for half a century. Amusing and often acerbic, his diaries chronicle two decades of parties, meetings and tussles over funding, with a cast of characters including Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Family, David Hockney, Mick Jagger and Rudolph Nureyev. This new edition includes entries omitted when the diaries were first published.
Mikey Walsh was born into a family of Romany gypsies and brought up, with no formal education, in the isolated and fiercely loyal culture of the traditional gypsy community. This acclaimed autobiography tells the story of his childhood with a cruel and abusive father and how coming out as gay forced him to abandon his roots, educate himself and seek a new life.
Chef, television presenter and award-winning businesswoman Prue Leith (b.1940) is one of Britain’s foremost culinary authorities and has helped to revolutionize the country’s eating habits. In this candid and witty autobiography she describes her childhood in apartheid South Africa, her arrival in London in the 1960s and her rapid ascent to restaurant owner, Daily Mail columnist and cookery book author.
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.
The Railway Man
Eric Lomax (1919–2012) had always been fascinated by steam locomotives; during the Second World War he became a railway man on the notorious Japanese Burma route. In this memoir he describes the captivity and abuse that he somehow survived and his meeting, many years later, with one of his torturers.
Jack Duckworth and Me
Bill Tarmey (1941–2012) played the lovable rogue Jack Duckworth in Coronation Street for 31 years until his character was killed off during the show's 50th anniversary in 2010. His story of growing up in post-war Manchester, singing in working men's clubs, and then finding his niche playing a rascal whose life uncannily mirrored his own will be cherished by all fans of Britain's longest-running soap.
A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine
The Last Diaries
The diaries of Tony Benn (1925-2014) provide an unparalleled commentary on Britain's political life between his election to Parliament in 1950 and the first decade of this century. This final volume covers the years 2007-2009 and includes observations on the 2008 financial crisis, the collapse of Gordon Brown's premiership and Benn's personal reflections on the challenges and compensations of old age. Edited by Ruth Winstone.
A Field Full of Butterflies
Memories of a Romany Childhood
Born in a Gypsy wagon in 1938, Rosemary Penfold grew up amid the fields of Somerset. In this memoir, she recounts the love and losses, hopes and struggles, traditions and prejudices of a close-knit community faced with a rapidly changing world. This moving testament to a disappearing way of life took her to the finals of Alan Titchmarsh’s People’s Author competition.
I Know Nothing!
Much loved as the Spanish waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers, Andrew Sachs (1930-2016) was born in Berlin rather than Barcelona and fled to England in 1938 after his father was arrested by the Gestapo. In this compelling and often hilarious memoir he tells of his early years in showbiz, the success of the infamous Torquay hotel, and his acting career beyond Fawlty, which included Shakespeare, Dustin Hoffman's Quartet, a stint as Father Brown, and Snowy in BBC Radio 5's Tintin.
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.
Moab Is My Washpot
From joining the ‘train boys’ en route to boarding school, aged eight, to ‘Cambridge Scholar Elect’ signing up for temporary teaching work, aged twenty, Stephen Fry narrates his progress through adolescent misery and love affairs, expulsion, prison and criminal conviction. Disarmingly honest and full of engrossing digressions, Fry’s gay coming-of-age autobiography has been described as ‘a pleasure to read, mixing the outrageous acts with sensible opinions in bewildering confusion’ (Financial Times). Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The author of The Long View and the much-loved Cazalet Chronicles, Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923–2014) lived, worked and loved in literary circles. Her candid autobiography describes her marriages – to Peter Scott and Kingsley Amis – love affairs with Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee (among others), other much-valued friendships and her years alone after leaving Amis. Slightly off-mint.
Kathleen and Frank
The Autobiography of a Family
Drawing on his mother’s diary and letters, the novelist Christopher Isherwood recreates 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, suffragettes, rising hemlines and social change – a world brought to an end by the Great War, in which Frank Isherwood was killed.
Composing an American Life
One of America’s foremost composers reflects on his life and times, from the marching bands of his 1950s childhood to his acclaimed 2005 opera Doctor Atomic. He also explains the interplay of tradition and innovation in his own compositional process and the work of fellow-musicians.
My Adventures as a Spy
In this book, written in 1915, the founder of the Boy Scout movement outlines the different types of spies, explains basic espionage techniques and describes his own adventures as a young army officer serving in military intelligence in Malta before the First World War.
In His Own Words
In 2013 Benedict XVI became the only Pope to resign from office in modern times. In these conversations with the religious journalist Peter Seewald, he discusses the reasons for his resignation and his admiration for his successor, speaking frankly about the controversies that have dogged the Church, including ‘Vatileaks’ and the child abuse scandal, and revealing his thoughts about his life, his philosophy, his mistakes, and the future of Christianity.
The Old Man and the Knee
How to Be a Golden Oldie
‘I’d like to get one thing straight. I am not old. I know what old is, and I’m not it.’ This light-hearted guide to retirement discusses the amusing and exasperating points of ageing, from what to do with your spare time and coping with the changing attitudes and manners of younger generations to worrying about declining physical fitness and the perils of social media.
A Life in Questions
‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ With this question in mind, Britain’s most incisive interviewer has skewered politicians from John Major to Theresa May on national television. Now, in this long-awaited memoir, he reflects on a career that has taken him to many of the world’s trouble spots, from Beirut to Belfast. Funny and poignant, it is packed with revealing anecdotes about the great, the good and the rotters he has met.
A Life of Crime
The Memoirs of a High Court Judge
Harry Ognall reflects on the responsibilities of a lifetime in the law courts of Leeds and London and the well-known cases he worked on. Having prosecuted the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, he presided as judge over the trials of Colin Stagg (accused of being the ‘Wimbledon Common murderer’) and the first UK doctor taken to court for assisting in euthanasia.
Born to sharecroppers in Georgia, Martin Luther King, Sr. (1899–1984) was a prominent Baptist preacher. This memoir, first published in 1980, recounts his struggles against racism, and his fatherly pride and anxiety as his son became the leading light of the Civil Rights movement.
In a long career working for the BBC, ITN and Sky News, award-winning journalist Jeremy Thompson travelled the world to report on events including the Tiananmen Square massacre and the release of Nelson Mandela. His autobiography offers a glimpse behind the scenes in the newsroom and shares both poignant and amusing moments during assignments, from the Miners’ Strike to the election of Donald Trump.
Breaking the Code
Westminster Diaries 1990–2007
As MP for Chester and a government whip, Gyles Brandreth had a ringside seat at Westminster from the fall of Margaret Thatcher to the election of Tony Blair. His frank and often funny diaries provide an insight into the workings of modern government, profiles of the key players, and the first-ever insider's account of the secret world of the Whips' Office. This updated edition continues the story to the arrival of David Cameron as Tory leader.