Biography and Memoirs

Michael Hofmann reviews 'Ted Hughes' by Jonathan Bate

Michael Hofmann
17 December 2015

I can readily see that I am not the intended reader for The Unauthorised Life of Ted Hughes. Born in the year his first book of poems came out (The Hawk in the Rain, 1957); made to read Hughes at school (I preferred Sylvia Plath); a graduate of the same university (Cambridge); my books published by the same publisher (Faber), and sharing (if at all ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Settling Day' by Kate Howarth

Gillian Dooley
30 November 2015

Kate Howarth is the child of a single mother, father uncertain, brought up by her Aboriginal grandmother. She in turn becomes pregnant at sixteen. Determined to keep her son despite the pressure to give him up for adoption, she marries the father. The marriage doesn't go well and Kate leaves without her son, hoping to come back for him when she is settled, but thing ... More

Daniel Juckes reviews 'And You May Find Yourself' by Paul Dalgarno

Daniel Juckes
30 November 2015

Writing about masculinity is difficult. But Paul Dalgarno, a founding editor at The Conversation, accepted the challenge. In And You May Find Yourself, he expresses truths which never seem trite or indulged.

The book describes the author's relationship with his father, as well as the flaky bond he shares with his wife and sons. These anxiet ... More

Brian Matthews reviews 'Frank Lowy' by Jill Margo

Brian Matthews
30 November 2015

'Let us now praise famous men / ... men renowned for their power ... / Leaders of the people by their counsels ... wise and eloquent / ... Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations ...'

These aspirations, from Apocrypha: Sirach 44, pose some problems for a biographer. The famous, the powerful, the leaders, the wise and e ... More

Jane Grant reviews 'Modern Love' by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan

Jane Grant
26 November 2015
In December, John decided there was nothing to lose and that he would write to Picasso asking him to view Nolan's work in storage. Sunday translated the letter into French, but even in draft form in English it read as sycophantic and sentimental ... They went to Picasso's apartment to hand deliver the letter and were met at the door by the artist's factotum. One wonders what Picasso ma ... More

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Young Eliot' by Robert Crawford

Andrew Fuhrmann
26 November 2015

This long-anticipated first volume of Robert Crawford's biography of T.S. Eliot, the first with permission from the Eliot estate to quote the poet's correspondence and unpublished work, highlights the Young Eliot as – not least in the achievement of his poetry – always an Old Eliot. And yet the picture of Eliot as a child and adolescent is detailed. In Young ... More

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'A Mother's Story' by Rosie Batty with Bryce Corbett

Rachel Buchanan
25 November 2015

I was halfway through A Mother's Story when my oldest daughter asked how I would review it. 'Will you talk about the writing, mum, or the content?' she said. 'You could bring personal experience into it because you are a mother too. You'll read it differently from me.'

Lily is fourteen. She is rarely interested in the same books as me and she has ne ... More

Neal Blewett reviews 'Universal Man' by Richard Davenport-Hines

Neal Blewett
25 November 2015

John Maynard Keynes has not lacked for biographers – about a dozen at last count. His first, his student Roy Harrod, established the framework of the public life, though providing only a sanitised version of the private Keynes. Donald Moggridge wrote the definitive account of the economic man, while Robert Skidelsky, with his three-volume work, John Maynard Ke ... More

Varun Ghosh reviews 'Born to Rule' by Paddy Manning

Varun Ghosh
25 November 2015

Since deposing Tony Abbott on 14 September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull has dominated Australian politics like a colossus. Turnbull's triumph, though long expected, happened quickly. The sense of national relief that followed was profound. The preceding eight years of Australian politics – scarcely the apotheosis of democratic governance – had produced intense public ... More

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'M Train' by Patti Smith

Felicity Plunkett
25 November 2015

The writer is a conductor, opines the 'vaguely handsome, intensely laconic' cowpoke who speaks to Patti Smith as she lingers at 'the frame of a dream'. His words shape Smith's days. 'It's not so easy writing about nothing,' this companion tells her, and she scratches these words over and over onto a wall in her home with a chunk of red chalk.

Writing about n ... More

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