Biography and Memoirs

Michael Shmith reviews 'Sinatra' by James Kaplan

Michael Shmith
Friday, 18 December 2015

Just in time for the Frank Sinatra centenary – 12 December should be a gazetted public holiday – comes the thumping second part of James Kaplan's monumental biography. Taken together, Volume I – Frank: The Voice (2010, 786 pages) – and its behemoth successor, Sinatra: The Chairman (979 pages), comprise a formidable and scrupulously detailed ...

James Walter reviews 'Keating' by Kerry O'Brien

James Walter
Thursday, 17 December 2015

Paul Keating continues to fascinate. Influential commentators such as Paul Kelly and George Megalogenis now celebrate the golden age of policy reform in which he was central, while lamenting the policy desert of recent years. Still, it is not enough: Keating, the master storyteller, wants to control the narrative of his legacy. Yet he professes disdain for biography ...

Michael Hofmann reviews 'Ted Hughes' by Jonathan Bate

Michael Hofmann
Thursday, 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 ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Settling Day' by Kate Howarth

Gillian Dooley
Monday, 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 ...

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 ...

Brian Matthews reviews 'Frank Lowy' by Jill Margo

Brian Matthews
Monday, 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 ...

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 ...

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Young Eliot' by Robert Crawford

Andrew Fuhrmann
Thursday, 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 ...

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 ...

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

Neal Blewett
Wednesday, 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 ...