ABBEY'S CHOICE JULY 2016 -----
A fascinating insight into the Wilde family's double fall from grace.
Oscar Wilde owed his most outstanding characteristics - his precocious intellectualism, his flamboyance, his hedonism, his recklessness, his pride, his sense of superiority, his liberal sexual values - to his parents.
Oscar's mother, Lady Jane Wilde, rose to prominence as a political journalist, advocating in 1848 a rebellion against colonialism. Proud, involved and challenging, she became a salon hostess and opened the Wilde's Dublin home at No. 1 Merrion Square to the public. Known as the most scintillating and stirring hostess of her day, she passed on her infectious delight in the art of living to Oscar, who imbibed it greedily.
His father was Sir William Wilde, one of the most eminent men of his generation. Acutely conscious of injustices in the social order, Sir William laid the foundations for the Celtic renaissance in the belief that culture would establish a common ground between the privileged and the poor, Protestant and Catholic. But Sir William was also a philanderer, and when he stood accused of sexually assaulting a young female patient, the scandal and trial sent shock waves through Dublin society.
After his death the Wildes moved to London where Oscar burst irrepressibly upon the scene. The one role that didn't suit him was that of the Victorian husband, as his wife, Constance, was to discover. For beneath the swelling forehead was a self-destructive itch: a lifelong devourer of attention, Oscar was unable to recognise when the party was over.
The Fall of the House of Wilde for the first time places Oscar Wilde as a member of one of the most dazzling Anglo-Irish families of Victorian times, and also in the broader social, political and religious context. A remarkable and perceptive account, this is a major repositioning of our first modern celebrity, a man whose own fall from grace in a trial as public as his father's marked the end of fin de si.cle decadence.
Pamela Jackson, nee Mitford, is perhaps the least well known of the illustrious Mitford sisters, yet her story is just as captivating, and more revealing. Despite shunning the bright city lights that her sisters so desperately craved, she was very much involved in the activities of her extraordinary family, picking up the many pieces when things went disastrously wrong - which they so often did. Joining her sisters on many adventures, including their meeting with Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Pamela quietly observed the bizarre, funny and often tragic events that took place around her. Through her eyes, we are given a view of the Mitfords never seen before. 'Loyal to the core,' she possessed 'the constancy and kindness that underpinned the wilder exploits of the Mitford family. Indeed, innocence, along with courage and kindness, was one of her remarkable qualities. But it was the innocence of a woman who had lived and suffered, loved and lost, and overcome adversity.' Journalist Diana Alexander, who was Pamela's friend for many years, here reveals the unknown Mitford, or, as her lifelong admirer John Betjeman described her, 'Gentle Pamela'.
This is a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. Other things in the world are white but for me porcelain comes first . A handful of clay from a Chinese hillside carries a promise: that mixed with the right materials, it might survive the fire of the kiln, and fuse into porcelain - translucent, luminous, white. Acclaimed writer and potter Edmund de Waal sets out on a quest - a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain. Along the way, he meets the witnesses to its creation; those who were inspired, made rich or heartsick by it, and the many whose livelihoods, minds and bodies were broken by this obsession. It spans a thousand years and reaches into some of the most tragic moments of recent times. In these intimate and compelling encounters with the people and landscapes who made porcelain, Edmund de Waal enriches his understanding of this rare material, the 'white gold' he has worked with for decades. It was also the Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.
The 10th of April 2016 will be the 50th anniversary of the death of Evelyn Waugh - hailed by Graham Greene as 'the greatest novelist of my generation', yet reckoned by Hilaire Belloc to have been possessed by the devil.
Waugh's literary reputation has risen steadily ever since Greene's assessment in 1966. Philip Eade's biography is a new biography for a new generation. His book spans the whole of Waugh's life, presenting the most revealing and in some cases unknown events of his 63 years (1903-1966) in a stimulating and highly readable narrative. It looks at Waugh's life from his standpoint as a means of better understanding his famously complex character, as well as examining how he was seen by others. It also reviews the extent to which his various experiences and relationships informed his fiction, and describes his life in the broader context of early to mid 20th-century social history. Eade offers a more contemporary view than previous biographies, explaining why Waugh's work continues to grow in popularity.
It takes account of the most recent Waugh scholarship and makes use of extensive unseen primary sources that cast new light on many of the key phases and themes of Waugh's life: his difficult relationship with his embarrassingly sentimental father and favoured elder brother, and the burning ambition they inadvertently provoked in him; his love affair with Alastair Graham at Oxford; his disastrous first marriage to Evelyn Gardner and its complicated annulment; his momentous conversion to Roman Catholicism; his complex interest in the aristocracy, and what the aristocrats made of him; his chequered wartime career and fateful enmity with Lord Lovat; his nervous breakdown; his strangely successful marriage to Laura Herbert; his unconventional attitude to his six children; his sharp tongue; his devastating wit; his egomania; and the love, fear and loathing that he variously inspired.
Steven Gerrard - legendary captain of Liverpool and England - tells the story of the highs and lows of a twenty-year career at the top of English and world football. As the only player ever to have scored in a FA cup final, a league cup final, a UEFA cup final and a champion's league final, Steven Gerrard is an inspiration to fans and footballers alike.
After joining his beloved Liverpool at the age of eight, he spent the next 28 years, and over 700 games, devoted to this one club. Perhaps the last player of his calibre that we will see display such extraordinary longevity and commitment, his loyalty ensures he will be remembered not only as one of the all-time Anfield greats but one of England's finest footballers. In My Story Gerrard dissects his full playing career. He examines the defining games such as the 2005 Champion's League Final when he inspired 'The Miracle of Istanbul' as Liverpool came back from 3-0 down against AC Milan to become champions of Europe. He talks about his 114 caps for England, including World Cup and European Championship campaigns, asking what went right - and wrong.
He writes candidly of those he's played with and competed against, from Luis Suarez to Jose Mourinho, his experiences under Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson. He also has an incredible and rare personal story, telling us of the extraordinary ups and downs of staying loyal to one club for your entire career. Explosive and searingly honest, Steven Gerrard's My Story is the last word from an era-defining player.
Chris Gayle is the only man to have ever hit a six off the first ball of a Test Match. In fact the West Indies cricket legend has broken every batting record in the book: most runs and sixes in a career, most hundreds, most man-of-the-match awards... He is untouchable. Off the pitch he's no less notorious - known for his excessive partying, he will regularly pull an all-nighter, eat his trademark pancake breakfast, and then play another record innings. Now the man known and loved for his supersize bats, huge frame and even bigger smile opens up his world. Funny, riveting, outrageous... welcome to the Six Machine.
She was one of the most important businesswomen of the 20th century, the prototype for all these Facebook and Google women who are leaning in.'
Before Martha Stewart and Mary Kay, there was Brownie Wise, the charismatic Tupperware executive who converted postwar optimism into a record breaking sales engine powered by ordinary housewives. Having started her own business after divorcing her alcoholic husband, the plucky Southern businesswoman caught the eye of Tupperware inventor Earl Tupper, whose plastic containers were collecting dust on store shelves.
The now legendary Tupperware Party that Wise popularised, a masterclass in the soft sell, drove Tupperware's sales to stratospheric heights. It also gave poorly educated and economically invisible postwar women, including many African-American women, an acceptable outlet for making their own money for their families and for being rewarded for their efforts. With the people skills of Dale Carnegie, the looks of Doris Day, and the magnetism of Eva Peron, Wise was as popular among her many devoted followers as she was among the press, and in 1954 she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week.
Then, at the height of her success, Earl Tupper fired her under mysterious circumstances, wrote her out of Tupperware's success story, and left her with a pittance. He walked away with a fortune and she disappeared until now. Originally published as Tupperware Unsealed, Life of the Party is a revised and updated edition perfectly timed to take advantage of this trail-blazing dynamo returning to the spotlight where she belongs.
Raised motherless on remote Yorkshire moors, watching five beloved siblings sicken and die, haunted by unrequited love: Charlotte Bronte's life has all the drama and tragedy of the great Gothic novels it inspired. Charlotte was a literary visionary, a feminist trailblazer and the driving force behind the whole Bronte family. She pushed Emily to publish Wuthering Heights and took charge of their precarious finances when her feckless brother turned to opium. In Jane Eyre she introduced the world to a brand new kind of heroine, modelled on herself: quiet but fiercely intelligent, burning with passion and potential. This is a truly gripping and illuminating account of one of our best-loved novelists.
For fans of David Sedaris, Tina Fey and Caitlin Moran comes the new book from Jenny Lawson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Let's Pretend This Never Happened...In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. As Jenny says: 'You can't experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.' It's a philosophy that has - quite literally - saved her life. Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn't need a bit more of that?
Emerging from modern history as a remarkable and much-loved family, the Mitfords have remained largely unrepentant concerning theirs and particularly Unity's enthusiastic support of Hitler, the Nazis, Oswald Mosley and British fascism. However, having initially encouraged and supported Unity's affair with Hitler, they subsequently insisted that she had in fact been a rather unintelligent, clumsy lump of a girl, whose virginal relationship with one of the most terrifying dictators of all time was a mere unrequited romantic obsession. As this book will show, nothing could be further from the truth.
Following further research and reexamination of the family's, friends' and journalists' often contradictory evidence, plus new information supplied by the author's own family and friends, Hitler's Valkyrie will reveal that while Unity was, like Hitler, an extreme fantasist, there was very little of the juvenile romantic about her. On the contrary, she was highly intelligent, free-spirited and athletic. She was also the only Englishwoman who came close to being capable of changing the course of the Second World War.
Here David R.L. Litchfield untangles the decades-old web of intrigue surrounding Unity Mitford and one of the most dangerous men of all time, creating a fascinating book of unparalleled importance to the Mitford legacy.
Baba Schwartz's story began before the Holocaust could have been imagined. As a spirited girl in a warm and loving Jewish family, she lived a normal life in a small town in eastern Hungary. In The May Beetles, Baba describes the innocence and excitement of her childhood, remembering her early years with verve and emotion. But then unspeakable horror. Baba tells of the shattering of her family and their community from 1944, when the Germans transported the 3000 Jews of her town to Auschwitz. She lost her father to the gas chambers, yet she, her mother and her two sisters survived this concentration camp and several others to which they were transported as slave labour. They eventually escaped the final death march and were liberated by the advancing Russian army. But despite the suffering, Baba writes about this period with the same directness, freshness and honesty as she writes about her childhood. Full of love amid hatred, hope amid despair, The May Beetles is sure to touch your heart.
The daughter of a successful paediatrician and a fashionable socialite, Margo Jefferson spent her childhood among Chicago's black elite. She calls this society 'Negroland': 'a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty'. With privilege came expectation. Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments - the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America - Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
At 15 Cass Nascimento was so beautiful she left boys tongue-tied. But her beauty was more than skin-deep: she was a sunny, generous, kind force of nature.
When Jason Carrasco was diagnosed with fast-spreading cancer at age 18 he feared the worst. Despite a loving family and supportive friends, he couldn't seem to find the strength needed to survive. Then came Cass. As terrible as Jason's ordeal was, Cass had already endured far worse, after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour at just 16 years old. The way she dealt with her diagnosis and gruelling treatment stunned everyone who came into contact with her the more terrible things got, the brighter Cass's light shone.
Now in remission, Cass knew firsthand how isolating it is to be a teenager whose future has been ripped away, so when she learned about Jason she was determined he would never feel alone again – she would be by his side no matter what.
Cass was true to her word, and with her inspiration Jason made it through and was declared cancer-free. But fate had a terrible twist in store. Just as Jason walked into the sunlight Cass's cancer returned. Now it was his turn to be there for her, hoping against hope that their deepest of bonds and her remarkable optimistic spirit and love for life would be enough to save this special girl.
A captivating true-life romance between two young American reporters who fell in love and embarked on a harrowing journey after the fall of Manila, traveling from island to island with the Japanese in close pursuit.
New Year's Eve, 1941. Inside Manila's Bay View Hotel, journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby heard the bombs and wondered if this would be their final night alive. Pearl Harbor had been attacked a few short weeks before, and the U.S. had decided not to defend the Philippine capital, leaving Mel and Annalee trapped in the city where they'd been married just a month earlier. The couple had worked closely with the Chinese government; if captured by Japanese troops, they were certain to be executed. Racing down to the docks just before midnight, they barely escaped onto a freighter as the city behind them burned. But this was only the beginning of their tumultuous journey, which would take them from one island outpost to another as they kept a step ahead of the Japanese, all the while serving as two of the only journalists reporting from the region.
In Eve of a Hundred Midnights, Bill Lascher brings to life the Jacobys' story. Beginning with Mel and Annalee's early life, Lascher charts the pair's love affair with the Far East - and with one another - and their early reporting in China and the Philippines as World War II began. Supported by deep historical research and the many letters they exchanged with friends and loved ones, Lascher captures their personal stories - including Annalee's time as a Hollywood screenwriter - as well as the broader geopolitical struggle that surrounded them. In the vein of recent blockbuster World War II hits, Eve of a Hundred Midnights is a tale of a thirst for adventure that could not be quenched, of daring reportage at great personal risk, and of a romance that blossomed in the shadow of war.
Freedom: My Book of Firsts, a memoir by Jaycee Lee Dugard, the bestselling author of A Stolen Life, whose widely acclaimed account of being kidnapped at age 11 and remaining a prisoner for 18 years became an international bestseller in 2011.
The kidnapping of Ms. Dugard occurred on June 10, 1991 in South Lake Tahoe, California, as she was walking from her home to her school bus stop. She was 11-years-old at the time. She remained missing for 18 years, until 2009, when her captor, a convicted sex offender, was arrested.
In her new book, Ms. Dugard will tell the story of her first experiences after years in captivity: the joys that accompanied her newfound freedom and the challenges of adjusting to life on her own. "There is life after something tragic happens," Ms. Dugard said. "Life doesn’t have to end if you don't want it to. It's all in how you look at it. Somehow, I still believe that we each hold the key to our own happiness and you have to grab it where you can in whatever form it might take."
In June of 1961, A.E. Hotchner visited an old friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke - a few weeks later, Ernest Hemingway was released home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a story whose telling Hemingway had spread over more than a decade.
In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway revealed to Hotchner the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he lost Hadley, the true part of each literary woman he'd later create and the great love he spent the rest of his life seeking. And he told of the mischief that made him a legend: of impotence cured in a house of God; of a plane crash in the African bush, from which Hemingway stumbled with a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin in hand; of F. Scott Fitzgerald dispensing romantic advice and champagne in the buff with Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as you've never known him - humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.
To protect the feelings of Ernest's wife - Mary, also a close friend - Hotch held back, keeping the conversations to himself for decades. Now, for the first time, he tells the whole story, mostly in Hemingway's own words. Hemingway in Love is the intimate and repentantly candid chapter missing from the definitive biography of a literary giant.
"In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things – obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness..." So begins Susan Faludi's extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and her own haunted family saga.
When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father – long estranged and living in Hungary – had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who claimed to be 'a complete woman now' connect to the silent, explosive and ultimately violent father that she had known, the photographer who'd built his career on the alteration of images? Faludi chases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father's many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest.
When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful – and virulent – nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals. Faludi's struggle to come to grips with her father's reinvented self takes her across borders – historical, political, religious, sexual – to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you 'choose' or is it the very thing that you can't escape?
'To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?' Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve, after his father was killed in a gun battle with the US Army. Smuggled into Iran, Gulwali began a twelvemonth odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, making a terrifying journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a young boy alone. In Britain he was fostered, sent to a good school, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in 2012. Gulwali wants to tell his story - to bring to life the plight of the thousands of men, women and children who are making this perilous journey every day. One boy's experience is the central story of our times. This memoir celebrates the triumph of courage and determination over adversity.
The real-life Alex Vause from the critically acclaimed, top-rated Netflix show Orange Is the New Black tells her story in her own words for the first time-a powerful, surprising memoir about crime and punishment, friendship and marriage, and a life caught in the ruinous drug trade and beyond.
Fans nationwide have fallen in love with Orange Is the New Black, the critically acclaimed and wildly popular Netflix show based on Piper Kerman's sensational #1 New York Times bestseller. Now, Catherine Cleary Wolters-the inspiration for Alex Vause, Piper's ex-girlfriend, friend, and sometimes-romantic partner on the show-tells her true story, offering details and insights that fill in the blanks, set the record straight, and answer common fan questions.
An insightful, frustrating, heartbreaking, and uplifting analysis of crime and punishment in our times, Out of Orange is an intimate look at international drug crime-a seemingly glamorous lifestyle that dazzles unsuspecting young women and eventually leads them to the seedy world of prison. Told by a woman originally thrust into the spotlight without her permission-Wolters learned about Piper's memoir in the media-Out of Orange chronicles Wolter's time in the drug trade, her incarceration, her friendships and acquaintances with odd cellmates, her two marriages, and her complicated relationship with Piper. But Wolters is not solely defined by her past; she also reflects on her life and the person she is today.
Filled with colorful characters, fascinating tales, painful sobering lessons, and hard-earned wisdom, Out of Orange is sure to be provocative, entertaining, and ultimately inspiring.
On 17th November, 2012, Salvador Alvarenga left the coast of Mexico for a two-day fishing trip. A vicious storm killed his engine and the current dragged his boat out to sea. The storm picked up and carried him West, deeper into the heart of the Pacific Ocean. Alvarenga would not touch solid ground again for 14 months. When he was washed ashore on January 30th, 2014, he had drifted over 9,000 miles. Three dozen cruise ships and container vessels passed nearby. Not one stopped for the stranded fisherman. He considered suicide on multiple occasions - including offering himself up to a pack of circling sharks. But Alvarenga developed a method of survival that kept his body and mind intact long enough for the Pacific Ocean to spit him up onto a remote palm-studded island. Crawling ashore, he was saved by a local couple living in their own private castaway paradise. Based on dozens of hours of interviews with Alvarenga and his colleagues, search and rescue officials, the medical team that saved his life and the remote islanders who nursed him back to normality, this is an epic tale of survival and one man's incredible story of beating the ultimate odds.
An intimate portrait of Stephen Spender's extraordinary life written by Matthew Spender, shifting between memoir and biography, with new insights drawn from personal recollections and his father's copious unpublished archives. Stephen Spender's life is a vivid snapshot of the twentieth century. Making friends with Auden and Isherwood while at Oxford, together they enjoyed adventures in Europe, becoming early opponents of the rise of fascism. Whilst pioneering modern poetry, Stephen later produced propaganda for the war effort - establishing an enduring reputation for mysterious activity. Despite marrying Natasha Litvin, an ambitious young concert pianist, Stephen was often entangled with young men and never able to reveal his secrets, leaving her to introspective questions, as the artistic world of London circled them. In this elegant memoir, his son Matthew offers an intimate portrait of a father, a marriage and an extraordinary life.
In the span of four months in 2012, Tig Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Hit with this devastating barrage, Tig took her grief onstage. Days after receiving her cancer diagnosis, she broke new comedic ground, opening an unvarnished set with the words: 'Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you? Hi, how are you? Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer.' The set instantly went viral, and was ultimately released as Tig's sophomore album, Live, which sold one hundred thousand units in just six weeks and was later nominated for a Grammy. Now, the wildly popular star takes stock of that no good, very bad year - a difficult yet astonishing period in which tragedy turned into absurdity and despair transformed into joy. An inspired combination of the deadpan silliness of her comedy and the open-hearted vulnerability that has emerged in the wake of that dire time, I'm Just a Person is a moving and often hilarious look at this very brave, very funny woman's journey into the darkness and her thrilling return from it.
In April 1925 at the age of fifteen, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she kept until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing over a million words in 45 exercise books. What emerges is a portrait of a truly unique, spirited woman and writer. Never before has an account so fully, so honestly and so vividly captured a single woman's journey through the twentieth century.
After a decade as Conservative Party leader, David Cameron remains an enigma to those outside his tight-knit inner circle. This authoritative biography of Britain's youngest Prime Minister for nearly 200 years provides a fascinating insight into the man only those closest to him know. Based on hundreds of interviews, with everyone from Westminster insiders to intimate friends, this book reveals the real David Cameron.What are his greatest strengths and his biggest weaknesses? How did he reach the top, first in the party and then as the leader of the UK's first coalition government since the Second World War, then winner of the most surprising election victory of recent times? How did he deal with everything from political triumph to personal tragedy? This unauthorised biography answers all these questions and more.From Eton to Oxford, through gap-year adventures in Russia to his early days as a party apparatchik and his stint as a PR man, the book scrutinises Cameron's journey to the premiership - and his record as the most powerful man in the land.
New York Times bestselling author Shane Dawson returns with another highly entertaining and uproariously funny essay collection, featuring a mix of real life moments both extraordinary and mortifying, yet always full of heart.
Bestselling author Shane Dawson shared some of his best and worst experiences in I Hate Myselfie, the critically-acclaimed book that secured his place as a gifted humorist and keen observer of millennial culture. Fans felt as though they knew him after devouring theNew York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journalbestseller. They were right almost.
In this next collection of original personal essays, Shane goes even deeper, sharing never-before-revealed stories from his life, giving readers a no-holds-barred look at moments both bizarre and relatable, from cult-like Christian after-school activities, dressing in drag, and losing his virginity, to hiring a psychic, clashes with celebrities, and coming to terms with his bisexuality. Every step of the way, Shane maintains his signature brand of humor, proving that even the toughest breaks can be funny when you learn to laugh at yourself.
This is Let's Pretend This Never Happened and Running With Scissors for the millennial generation: an inspiring, intelligent, and brutally honest collection of true stories by a YouTube sensation-turned one of the freshest new voices out there.
He was born in the year Dr Johnson died, and died in the year A.E. Houseman and Conan Doyle were born. The 75 years of Leigh Hunt's life uniquely span two distinct eras of English life and literature. A major player in the Romantic movement, the intimate and first publisher of Keats and Shelley, friend of Byron, Hazlitt and Lamb, Hunt lived on to become an elder statesman of Victorianism, the friend and champion of Tennyson and Dickens, awarded a sate pension by Queen Victoria. Jailed in his twenties for insulting the Prince of Wales, Hunt ended his long, productive life vainly seeking the Poet Laureatship with fawning poems to Victoria. A tirelessly prolific poet, essayist, editor and critic, he has been described as having no rival in the history of English criticism. Yet Hunt's remarkable life story has never been fully told.
Jeremy Corbyn is the most unlikely revolutionary: a middle-aged, middle-class former grammar schoolboy, who honed his radicalism on the mean streets of rural Shropshire. Until recently, he was barely known outside political circles, yet today he is the leader of the Labour Party having won by a landslide, riding a wave of popular enthusiasm. When he was first persuaded to run, not even Corbyn himself dreamed he would somehow tap into a summer 2015 zeitgeist, an unforeseen populist fervour for change. From Corbyn's cosy rural upbringing, through three marriages - including his decision to divorce one wife for sending their son to grammar school - and his long espousal of contentions causes, including Irish republicanism and a free Palestine, Comrade Jeremy is the story of the most unexpected leadership contest ever to take place in modern British politics.