Biography and Memoirs

Peter Hill: The fecundity of Lucian Freud

Peter Hill
28 May 2014

He painted Kate Moss naked. The Kray twins threatened to cut off his painting hand over bad gambling debts. He was officially recognised as father to fourteen children by numerous partners, but the unofficial tally could be as high as forty (three were born to different mothers within a few months). He is Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, born in Berlin on 8 ... More

Jeremy Fisher: a critical biography of Gerald Glaskin

Jeremy Fisher
28 May 2014

Never heard of him – that’s the most common reaction when I mention Gerry Glaskin. Some Western Australians remember him, as they should: he was born and spent his last years there. Yet in between he was a bestselling novelist in the 1950s and 1960s. He was translated into French, German, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, and Norwegian. Doubleda ... More

Colin Steele: An Oxford don on his prolific past

Colin Steele
28 May 2014

John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books has three intertwined components: autobiographical memories from Carey, a prolific author and book reviewer and former Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford; his six-decade interaction with that university; and ‘English literature and me, how we met, how we got on, what came of it ... More

Dina Ross: A media personality's battle with shyness

Dina Ross
28 May 2014

Shy is a strange beast – part memoir, part journalistic investigation, part cri de coeur. Reading it, you are immersed in the interior life of an intelligent and sensitive woman. The experience is unsettling, almost voyeuristic. You wonder whether you should be sharing such an intense and honest self-scrutiny, and often feel as if you were breaching ... More

Richard Toye: a major study of the literary Churchill

Richard Toye
27 May 2014

On the rear jacket of this fascinating and important book is a picture of Winston Churchill at his desk at Chartwell, his house in Kent, just a few months before the outbreak of World War II. Apparently caught in the moment of literary creation, cigar in mouth and concentrating on his papers, the photo credit – to a Picture Post photographer – leads to th ... More

Alison Broinowski: Malcolm Fraser on Foreign Policy

Alison Broinowski
27 May 2014

Coinciding with the World War I anniversaries, Malcolm Fraser’s book will polarise Australian opinion on a fundamental issue. It has never been raised in this way, for Australian leaders have not discussed decisions to go to war in public, nor sought popular approval of Australia’s alliances. Yet successive generations of young Australians have fought in British ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick on history vs memoir

Sheila Fitzpatrick
27 May 2014

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of humour. Instead of his usual attire – a shabby red velvet jacket with tobacco stains and bow tie – Demoyte turns up wearing a nondescript grey suit, explaining to a friend: ‘A ... More

The LRB of life writing

Ann-Marie Priest
26 May 2014
Anne-Marie Priest finds much to enjoy in LRB's new anthology of life writing (Hilary Mantel, Andrew O'Hagan et al.), but wonders about the elastic definition of what constitutes a memoir. More

Neal Blewett reviews Bob Carr

Neal Blewett
26 May 2014
Where Neal Blewett - another notable political diarist - wonders if Bob Carr recieved 'an epistle from on high' when he published his diaries, as happened to Blewett in the 1990s More

The new biography of Jonathan Swift

Robert Phiddian
30 April 2014

Twelve years after Swift’s death, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu showed a visitor to her house in Venice a commode lined with books by Pope, Bolingbroke, and Swift. This, she explained, ‘gave her the satisfaction of shitting on them every day’. We still don’t know exactly what it was that caused her to fall out with Swift, Pope, and their friends in the 1720s, bu ... More

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