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 sensitive, meticulously researched biography reveals, was a dark tale of possessive love and Michael’s doomed efforts to free himself.
A Personal Memoir
The close and abiding friendship of Robert Harling and Ian Fleming was forged during the Second World War, when Harling was Fleming’s deputy in the commando unit dubbed ‘Fleming’s Secret Navy’. Described by Fiona MacCarthy in her foreword as ‘a master of obfuscation’, Harling fictionalized his own life and inspired characters – even elements of 007 – in Fleming’s fiction. This memoir of his friend provides an entertaining portrait of the creator of James Bond, but also a revealing self-portrait of Harling.
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 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 Epic Story of the Men Who Kept the Endurance Expedition Alive
Shackleton's 1914–17 Antarctic expedition is best remembered for its legendary escape after his ship Endurance was crushed by ice. Less well known are the exploits of the 'Mount Hope Party', dispatched aboard the Aurora to lay food depots across the Great Ice Barrier, without which the planned crossing of the frozen continent would have been impossible. Drawing on the diaries of six expedition members, this book records their story of hardship, heroism and camaraderie – and their tragic fate.
This handsome collection of work by the veteran Political Cartoonist of The Times reproduces more than 100 savagely satirical sketches covering tumultuous events from autumn 2013 to the aftermath of the 2015 General Election, and includes the rise of Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon; the fall of Ed Miliband (drawn to resemble the eccentric inventor Wallace from Wallace and Gromit); crises in Greece, Syria and the NHS; and a heartfelt response to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Stand Up Straight and Sing!
Jessye Norman is one of the finest classical singers of our age, the possessor of a glorious voice of unique range and power. In this frank, engaging and insightful memoir, she tells of her journey from small-town America to the opera houses of London, Paris, Berlin and New York. She reflects on the dedication required to master her art, on racism and her political education in the Civil Rights movement, offering a rare insight into the woman behind the voice.
The Suffragette Derby
The 1913 Derby is remembered for the pivotal intervention of the suffragette Emily Davison. But the race, one of the first to be captured on newsreel, was remarkable for other reasons. Also present was Charles Bower Ismay, scion of the shipbuilding family vilified for the Titanic disaster the previous year, and owner of the runner Craiganour. Michael Tanner's history unravels the chain of events that led to Davison's death under the king's horse Anmer, and Craiganour's controversial disqualification.
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.
A Family Epic
For more than a century, the Redgraves have defined theatre and film. Drawing on personal knowledge and many interviews, this biography charts the private and professional lives of the dynasty, from the brilliant, troubled Michael Redgrave and his wife Rachel Kempson, through their offspring Lynn, Vanessa and Corin, to the triumphs and tragedies of the latest generation. The result is an epic study of a talented, volatile, passionate and controversial family.
Bringing Them Up Royal
How the Royals Raised Their Children from 1066 to the Present Day
'With some exceptions', writes David Cohen, 'the royals have not distinguished themselves as parents over the last 1,000 years'. From William the Conqueror's daughter Adela and her favoured son, Stephen, through the young Victoria's strictly controlled childhood under the 'Kensington System', and ending with how Princess Diana filled the role of royal mother, Cohen intertwines history with child psychology as he tells a story of violence, betrayal and cruelty – with the occasional gem of kindness and wisdom.
The Odd Couple
The Curious Friendship Between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin
Amis was a husband, father and clubland boozer; Larkin a misanthrope who lived in self-imposed solitude. Yet from their first meeting at Oxford in 1941, the pair struck up a friendship that would last for more than 40 years. Drawing on letters, manuscripts and interviews, this richly humane study offers a glimpse into their cantankerous, controversial and often very funny private correspondence. In doing so, it also illuminates some of the finest novels and poems of the 20th century.
Tommy at War
1914–1918: The Soldiers' Own Stories
Describing – from personal experience – the horror, exhilaration, comradeship and humour of warfare, this collection of first-hand accounts attempts to convey what it was like to serve as an ordinary British soldier in the Great War. Drawing on memoirs, diaries, correspondence and recorded interviews with survivors, the narrative examines recruitment and training and the soldier's experience of the home front and life in rear echelons as well as the discomfort, boredom and terror of the front line.
The Secret Diaries of Almost Everyone
This collection of revelatory, though utterly made-up, accounts from The Times includes new introductions from the author, whose satire skewers luminaries like Ed Balls, David Cameron, EL James, Prince Harry, Vladimir Putin, Oprah Winfrey – and Jeremy Clarkson ('Wednesday: A day in the Top Gear studio with Hammond and the other one, brainstorming new ways to be mean about the Germans').
The Scandalous Life and Times of WT Stead
Long before phone hacking and the Fake Sheikh, there was WT Stead. This gripping biography charts the life and career of a Fleet Street legend. It recounts his dramatic abduction of a 13-year-old girl to expose the evils of child prostitution, an exploit that earned him a prison sentence but changed the law, and records his death in the greatest news story of the era – the sinking of the Titanic.
The Frog with Self-Cleaning Feet
and Other Extraordinary Tales from the Animal World
Wild animals can do the most extraordinary things: some use tools and solve complex problems; others are devious – they cheat, steal and run protection rackets. Michael Bright presents a miscellany of animal anecdotes, facts and figures about the most venomous, most dangerous and most bizarre animals, including the animal with the largest tongue, the one with the most powerful bite and even a bird that can tell the time.