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Biography

Book review: Philip Larkin

‘LARKIN’S reputation as a poet is secure. His reputation as a man is, however, in a less healthy state,” says James Booth in the introduction to this new biography. An understatement in both cases. Actually, Larkin’s poetry is loved more and more

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love review James Booth's life of the poet is wide of the mark

Except when dealing with the poetry itself, James Booth's biography of Philip Larkin reaches some muddled conclusionsAs treasurer of the Oxford English Club, the young Philip Larkin met several famous writers, among them Lord Berners, George Orwell and, m

Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke - Henry Hemming

there is no reason why you should have heard of Geoffrey Pyke. After his suicide in 1948 he was described as one of the great geniuses of his time, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains today, as The Times put it, 'one of the most original if unrecog

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph - Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford's biographies of Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get

Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy review

This biography of a wartime master of problem solving reads wonderfully like an adventure storyIn the spring of 1943 chief of Combined Operations "Dickie" Mountbatten advanced into Winston Churchill's bathroom announcing that he had "a block of a new mate

The Novel: a Biography by Michael Schmidt review a compelling yet limited survey

How has fiction changed down the ages? This ambitious study is fascinating on the great novelists but fails to capture the inner life of the formCan a history of the novel ever be written? The quantity of reading is inconceivable. I suppose people who say

The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke - David Bromwich

David Bromwich's portrait of statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is the first biography to attend to the complexity of Burke's thought as it emerges in both the major writings and private correspondence. The public and private writings cannot be easily dis

Under a Mackerel Sky - Rick Stein

Rick Stein's childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and live

Last Man Off review Matt Lewis's tale of survival on the high seas

This chilling account of a fishing trip that goes fatally wrong should take its place alongside The Perfect StormAs true-life tales of endurance and survival go, Matt Lewis's is one of the most dramatic in recent memory. And yet, until now, his story was