Biographies & Autobiographies

Cultural & Literary

  • KGJN
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    The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta made headlines across the world in 2015 and this biography provides a compelling portrait of King John, the supposed tyrant leader who issued - and consequently rejected - the famous document that bound him and his successors to better behaviour.

    Extensively researched and written by Marc Morris, author of A Great and Terrible King and The Norman Conquest, the book examines whether King John was the familiar figure we all know from Robin Hood - a monarch who was greedy, cowardly, despicable and cruel.

    Throughout the book, the historian draws on contemporary chronicles and the king's own letters to show what John was really like. He argues he was dynamic, inventive and relentless, but also a very flawed individual whose rise to power involved treachery, rebellion and murder.

    The book also looks at the invasions by Wales, Scotland and Ireland that occurred under John's reign and the civil war and foreign invasion that brought upon his downfall.
  • AMHFO
    Catherine Mayer
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    He has lived his whole life in the public eye, yet he remains an enigma. He was born to be king, but he aims much higher. A landmark publication, Charles: The Heart of a King reveals Prince Charles in all his complexity: the passionate views that mean he will never be as remote and impartial as his mother; the compulsion to make a difference and the many and startling ways in which the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom and fifteen other realms has already made his mark. The book offers fresh and fascinating insights into the first marriage that did so much to define him and an assessment of his relationship with the woman he calls, with unintended accuracy, his 'dearest wife': Camilla. We see Charles as a father and a friend, a serious figure and a joker. Life at court turns out to be full of hidden dangers and unexpected comedy. Poignant, funny and often surprising, the first significant study of the Prince in over a decade reveals a man in sight of happiness yet still driven by anguish and a remarkable belief system, a charitable entrepreneur, activist, agitator and avatar of the Establishment who just as often tilts against it. Based on multiple interviews with his friends and courtiers, palace insiders and critics, and access to Charles himself during research lasting more than a year, this biography explores the Prince's philanthropy and his compulsive interventionism, his faith, his political leanings and the philosophy that means when he seeks harmony he sometimes creates controversy. Gripping, at times astonishing, often laugh-out-loud, this is a royal biography unlike any other.
  • WNTT
    Kevin Bridges
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    Rising to meteoric fame in next to no time, Kevin Bridges is now one of the nation's best-loved comics. But life wasn't always record-breaking shows at sell-out arenas for Kevin. In his new book, We Need to Talk About... Kevin Bridges, fans of the Glaswegian-born comic can discover the hilarious story of his life so far.

    Born in Clydebank, Kevin began life as a nervy, shy schoolboy. But as he approached his teens he found his true calling: being the class clown. Aged just 17, Kevin took to the stage for the first time and brought the house down. This guy was going somewhere; exactly where that somewhere was, who would have known? With plenty of hilarious stories to tell of his rise to fame, readers can discover the story of Britain's comic rising star - told with his trademark social commentary and sharp wit.

    With a BAFTA-nominated TV show and sold-out UK tour to his name already, at the tender age of just 27, Kevin Bridges is destined for stand-up super-stardom. Fans of Kevin Bridges will delight finding this memoir in their stocking this Christmas!
  • AOVXR
    Frederick Forsyth
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    Frederick Forsyth has seen it all. And lived to tell the tale. 'We all make mistakes, but starting the Third World War would have been a rather large one. To this day, I still maintain it was not entirely my fault. But I'm getting ahead of myself. During the course of my life, I've barely escaped the wrath of an arms dealer in Hamburg, been strafed by a MiG during the Nigerian civil war, and landed during a bloody coup in Guinea-Bissau. The Stasi arrested me, the Israelis regaled me, the IRA prompted a quick move from Ireland to England, and a certain attractive Czech secret police agent - well, her actions were a bit more intimate. And that's just for starters. All of that I saw from the inside. But all that time I was, nonetheless, an outsider.' Trained first as a pilot, then as a journalist, Frederick Forsyth finally turned to fiction and became one of the most lauded thriller writers of our time. As exciting as his novels, Forsyth's autobiography is a candid look at an extraordinary life lived to the full, a life whose unique experiences have provided rich inspiration for thirteen internationally bestselling thrillers.
  • AAITD
    Maya Angelou
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    Maya Angelou's six volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover. 'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya Angelou
  • ADBFU
    Peter Ackroyd
    • £10.39
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    Peter Ackroyd's marvellous biography is a living attempt to reach into the heart of Shakespeare.He creates an intimate and immediate connection with his subject, so that the book reads like the work of a contemporary - meeting Shakespeare afresh on his own ground.Written with intuition and imagination unique to Peter Ackroyd, this is a book by a writer about a writer, and a fascinating and detailed depiction of the world Shakespeare inhabited.
  • ABLHC
    Judy Golding
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    The Children of Lovers is an interesting, intelligent memoir, written in an engaging and unsentimental style. In 1993, Golding died after an evening with the family, drunk and alone, at about 4am a bad time for a sufferer of night terrors... On the same night, in a nearby room, Judy had a prophetic dream that at last she could think and write whatever she liked. This book, so clear thinking and devoid of self-pity has emerged from that discovery. While William Golding may give The Children of Lovers its heft and weight, the author gives it wings, and her book takes flight in a light-spirited way that those brilliant, brilliant, demon-haunted novels never quite did.

  • AGEWH
    Paul Auster
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    Although Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee had been reading each other's books for years, the two writers did not meet until February 2008. Not long after, Auster received a letter from Coetzee, suggesting they begin exchanging letters on a regular basis and, "God willing, strike sparks off each other". "Here and Now" is the result of that proposal: an epistolary dialogue between two great writers who became great friends. Over three years their letters touched on nearly every subject, from sports to fatherhood, film festivals to incest, philosophy to politics, from the financial crisis to art, family, marriage, friendship, and love. Their correspondence offers an intimate and often amusing portrait of these two men as they explore the complexities of the here and now and is a reflection of two sharp intellects whose pleasure in each other's friendship is apparent on every page.
  • AGWML
    Fiona Maddocks
    • £11.99
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    Best known today as a fine composer, the twelfth-century German abbess Hildegard of Bingen was also a religious leader and visionary, a poet, naturalist and writer of medical treatises. Despite her cloistered life she had strong, often controversial views on sex, love and marriage too - a woman astonishing in her own age, whose book of apocalyptic visions, Scivias, would alone have been enough to ensure her lasting fame. In this classic and highly praised biography - first published by Headline in 2001 - distinguished writer and journalist, Fiona Maddocks, draws on Hildegard's prolific writings to paint a portrait of her extraordinary life against the turbulent medieval background of crusade and schism, scientific discovery and cultural revolution. The great intellectual gifts and forceful character that emerge make her as fascinating as any figure in the Middle Ages. More than 800 years after her death, Pope Benedict XVI has made Hildegard a Saint and a Doctor of the Church (one of only four women). Fiona Maddocks has provided a short new preface to cover these tributes to an extraordinary and exceptional woman.
  • ALJXI
    James Bowen
    (1)
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    Readers have fallen in love with the tale of James and Bob, a street cat James found abandoned in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation and now James Bowen is back with the follow-up to A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob with a touching festive story of the inseparable pair titled A Gift from Bob.

    Looking back at the last Christmas they spent scraping a living together on the streets of London, the book details how Bob helped James through one of his toughest times by providing him with strength, friendship and inspiration - while also teaching him an important lesson about the true meaning of Christmas.

    An extraordinary real-life tale of the transcendence of friendship and love, A Gift from Bob is the ideal Christmas gift for anyone who has fallen for the pair's earlier books or for those who simply adore animals.
  • AENME
    Claire Tomalin
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    Claire Tomalin brings her extraordinary gifts of scholarship, fluent writing and empathy for her subjects to bear on one of our greatest, and most elusive, novelists. Widely acclaimed as the finest of Austen biographies, the book offers us "a brave, sharp-tongued character who fairly bounces off the page". (Val Hennesy). And along the way it gives us an "authoratative, graceful,succinct account of a wide swathe of English society which brilliantly illuminates' the novelist". (Victoria Glendinning).
  • AJXBG
    Laurie Lee
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    This is a beautiful new edition of Laurie Lee's celebrated autobiographical trilogy: Cider with Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War. 'I was set down from the carrier's cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.' 'This trilogy is a sequence of early recollections, beginning with the dazzling lights and sounds of my first footings on earth in a steep Cotswold valley some three miles long. For nineteen years this was the limit of my world, then one midsummer morning I left home and walked to London and down the blazing length of Spain during the innocent days of the early thirties. Never had I felt so fat with time, so free to go where I would. Then such indulgence was suddenly broken by the savage outbreak of the Civil War..." (Laurie Lee).
  • AGWIF
    Jennifer Kloester
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    The ground-breaking biography of one of Britain's best-loved and best-selling novelists. Georgette Heyer remains an enduring international bestseller, read and loved by four generations of readers and extolled by today's bestselling authors. Despite her enormous popularity she never gave an interview or appeared in public. Georgette Heyer wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, when she was seventeen in order to amuse her convalescent brother. It was published in 1921 to instant success and it has never been out of print. A phenomenon even in her own lifetime, to this day she is the undisputed queen of regency romance. During ten years of research into Georgette Heyer's life and writing, Jennifer Kloester has had unlimited access to Heyer's notebooks and private papers and the Heyer family records, and exclusive access to several untapped archives of Heyer's early letters.
  • ABRHI
    Ernest Hemingway
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    Published posthumously in 1964, "A Moveable Feast" remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. Since Hemingway's personal papers were released in 1979, scholars have examined and debated the changes made to the text before publication. Now this new special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published. Featuring a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's sole surviving son, and an introduction by the editor and grandson of the author, Sean Hemingway, this new edition also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-published Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son Jack and his first wife, Hadley. Also included are irreverent portraits of other luminaries, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Madox Ford, and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. Sure to excite critics and readers alike, the restored edition of "A Moveable Feast" brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomised.
  • AJOTM
    Piers Dudgeon
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    Maeve Binchy's heart-warming tales of love, life and loss made her one of Ireland's most celebrated writers. Seared with a truth and honesty that leapt from the page, her books captured the imagination and loyalty of millions of readers, for whom there was no greater storyteller. In his bestselling biography, Piers Dudgeon gives a privileged insight into a life at once so familiar and yet so extraordinary, played against the backdrop of her favourite character: Ireland. Here, Maeve, who always had so much love to give, experienced the agonies of growing up the girl that nobody wanted to dance with, and the student who could never live up to her parents' hopes. Here, finally, she came to question the dogma that surrounded her, and found her own path, liberated from the narrow rules of convention. Maeve Binchy: The Biography reveals her triumphant struggle, and presents a powerful tribute to a phenomenal storytelling talent.
  • AENOM
    Claire Tomalin
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    From Claire Tomalin, bestselling author of "Samuel Pepys", comes "Charles Dickens", the definitive biography of our greatest novelist who brought us "Great Expectations", "Oliver Twist", "A Christmas Carol", "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Nicholas Nickleby" - for fans of Peter Ackroyd "Charles Dickens" was a phenomenon: a demonicly hardworking journalist, the father of ten children, a tireless walker and traveller, a supporter of liberal social causes, but most of all a great novelist - the creator of characters who live immortally in the English imagination: the Artful Dodger, Mr Pickwick, Pip, David Copperfield, Little Nell, Lady Dedlock, and many more. At the age of twelve he was sent to work in a blacking factory by his affectionate but feckless parents. From these unpromising beginnings, he rose to scale all the social and literary heights, entirely through his own efforts. When he died, the world mourned, and he was buried - against his wishes - in Westminster Abbey. Yet the brilliance concealed a divided character: a republican, he disliked America; sentimental about the family in his writings, he took up passionately with a young actress; usually generous, he cut off his impecunious children. "Charles Dickens: A Life" paints an unforgettable portrait of Dickens, capturing brilliantly the complex character of this great genius. "By far the most humane and imaginatively sympathetic account yet for the general reader". (Amanda Craig, "New Statesman"). "Flawless ...fascinating". (William Boyd, "Observer"). Claire Tomalin is the author of seven highly acclaimed biographies, including "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self", which was the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year. Her previous book on Dickens, "The Invisible Woman", an account of his relationship with the actress Ellen Ternan, won three major literary prizes. A former literary editor of the "New Statesman" and the "Sunday Times", she is married to the playright and novelist Michael Frayn.
  • AABGO
    Bill Bryson
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    This short biography of William Shakespeare by world famous writer Bill Bryson brims with the author's inimitable wit and intelligence. Shakespeare's life, despite the scrutiny of generations of biographers and scholars, is still a thicket of myths and traditions, some preposterous, some conflicting, arranged around the few scant facts known about the Bard -- from his birth in Stratford to the bequest of his second best bed to his wife when he died. Following his international bestsellers 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid', Bill Bryson has written a short biography of William Shakespeare for the Eminent Lives series -- which seeks to pair great subjects with writers known for their strong sensibilities and sharp, lively points of view.
  • AECUZ
    Jeanette Winterson
    • £8.29
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    In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit", was published. It was Jeanette's version of the story of a terraced house in Accrington, an adopted child, and the thwarted giantess Mrs Winterson. It was a cover story, a painful past written over and repainted. It was a story of survival. This book is that story's the silent twin. It is full of hurt and humour and a fierce love of life. It is about the pursuit of happiness, about lessons in love, the search for a mother and a journey into madness and out again. It is generous, honest and true.
  • AKZMV
    The Countess of Carnarvon
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    Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction...This book tells the story of Lady Catherine, a beautiful American girl who became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award-winning drama Downton Abbey. Charming and charismatic, Catherine caught the eye of Lord Porchester (or 'Porchey', as he was known) when she was just 20 years old, and wearing a pale yellow dress at a ball. She had already turned down 14 proposals before she eventually married Porchey in 1922. But less than a year later Porchey's father died suddenly, and he became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, inheriting a title and a Castle that changed both their lives forever. Catherine found herself suddenly in charge of a small army of household staff, and hosting lavish banquets and weekend house parties. Although the couple were very much in love, considerable challenges lay ahead for Catherine. They were immediately faced with the task of saving Highclere when debts threatened to destroy the estate. As the 1920s moved to a close, Catherine's adored brother died and she began to lose her husband to the distractions London had to offer. When the Second World War broke out, life at the Castle would never be the same again. Drawing on rich material from the private archives at Highclere, including beautiful period photographs, the current Countess of Carnarvon transports us back to the thrilling and alluring world of the 'real Downton Abbey' and its inhabitants.
  • ADXAW
    Humphrey Carpenter
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    Critically acclaimed, award-winning biography of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and the brilliant group of writers to come out of Oxford during the Second World War. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friends were a regular feature of the Oxford scenery in the years during and after the Second World War. They drank beer on Tuesdays at the 'Bird and Baby', and on Thursday nights they met in Lewis' Magdalen College rooms to read aloud from the books they were writing; jokingly they called themselves 'The Inklings'. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien first introduced The Screwtape Letters and The Lord of the Rings to an audience in this company and Charles Williams, poet and writer of supernatural thrillers, was another prominent member of the group. Humphrey Carpenter, who wrote the acclaimed biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, draws upon unpublished letters and diaries, to which he was given special access, in this engrossing story.
  • AKDVU
    Nigel Cawthorne
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    Agatha Christie's 80 novels and short-story collections have sold over 2 billion copies in more than 45 languages, more than any other author. When Christie finally killed off her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the year before she herself died, that 'detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep' in Christie's words, received a full-page obituary in the New York Times, the only fictional character ever to have done so. From her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a Poirot mystery, to her last, Sleeping Murder, featuring Miss Marple, Crawford explores Christie's life and fiction. Cawthorne examines recurring characters, such as Captain Arthur Hastings, Poirot's Dr Watson; Chief Inspector Japp, his Lestrade, as well as other flat-footed policemen that Poirot outsmarts on his travels; his efficient secretary, Miss Felicity Lemon; another employee, George; and Ariadne Oliver, a humorous caricature of Christie herself. He looks at the writer's own fascinating: her work as a nurse during the First World War; her strange disappearance after her first husband asked for a divorce; and her exotic expeditions with her second husband, the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. He examines the author's working life - her inspirations, methods and oeuvre - and provides biographies of her key characters, their attire, habits and methods, including Poirot's relationships with women, particularly Countess Vera Rossakoff and Miss Amy Carnaby. In doing so, he sheds light on the genteel world of the country house and the Grand Tour between the wars. He takes a look at the numerous adaptations of Christie's stories for stage and screen, especially Poirot's new life in the eponymous long-running and very successful TV series.
  • AECNJ
    C. S. Lewis
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    This autobiography of C.S.Lewis's early life, focusing on the spiritual crisis which was to determine the shape of his entire life, now repackaged and rebranded as a key title in the C.S. Lewis Signature Classics range. "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God!perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." Thus C.S. Lewis describes memorably the crisis of his conversion in his famous autobiography. Lewis was for many years an atheist, and in Surprised by Joy he vividly describes the spiritual quest which eventually convinced him of the truth and reality of the Christian faith.
  • AKYCJ
    Alan Bennett
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    This book brings together his diaries for 1980-1995, with reminiscences and reviews, the diary he kept during the production of his very first play, Forty Years On, which starred John Gielgud, together with hilarious accounts of his many television plays, notably An Englishman Abroad and A Private Function. At the heart of the book is The Lady in the Van, the true account of Miss Mary Shepherd, a homeless tramp who took up residence in Bennett's garden and stayed for fifteen years. From his now-legendary address at Russell Harty's memorial service to recollections of growing up in Leeds, Writing Home gives us a unique and unforgettable portrait of one of England's leading playwrights.
  • AJHOZ
    • £15.79
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    Best known for his provocative take on cultural issues in The Intellectuals and the Masses and What Good Are the Arts?, John Carey describes in this warm and funny memoir, longlisted for 2014's Samuel Johnson Prize, the events that formed him - an escape from the London blitz to an idyllic rural village, army service in Egypt, an open scholarship to Oxford and an academic career that saw him elected, age 40, to Oxford's oldest English Literature professorship. He frankly portrays the snobberies and rituals of 1950s Oxford, but also his inspiring meetings with writers and poets - Auden, Graves, Larkin, Heaney - and his forty-year stint as a lead book-reviewer for the Sunday Times. This is a book about the joys of reading - in effect, an informal introduction to the great works of English literature. But it is also about war and family, and how an unexpected background can give you the insight and the courage to say the unexpected thing.