Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter's Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python. Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese's thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.
In this unique and lovingly detailed biography of a literary family that has enthralled readers for nearly two centuries, Victorian literature scholar Deborah Lutz illuminates the complex and fascinating lives of the Brontes through the things they wore, stitched, wrote on, and inscribed.
By unfolding the histories of the meaningful objects in their family home in Haworth, Lutz immerses readers in a nuanced re-creation of the sisters' daily lives while moving us chronologically forward through the major biographical events: the death of their mother and two sisters, the imaginary kingdoms of their childhood writing, their time as governesses, and their determined efforts to make a mark on the literary world. From the miniature books they made as children to the blackthorn walking sticks they carried on solitary hikes on the moors, each personal possession opens a window onto the sisters' world, their beloved fiction, and the Victorian era. A description of the brass collar worn by Emily's bull mastiff, Keeper, leads to a series of entertaining anecdotes about the influence of the family's dogs on their writing and about the relationship of Victorians to their pets in general.
The sisters' portable writing desks prove to have played a crucial role in their writing lives: it was Charlotte's snooping in Emily's desk that led to the sisters' first publication in print, followed later by the publication of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Charlotte's letters provide insight into her relationships, both innocent and illicit, including her relationship with the older professor to whom she wrote passionately. And the bracelet Charlotte had made of Anne and Emily's intertwined hair bears witness to her profound grief after their deaths.
Lutz captivatingly shows the Brontes anew by bringing us deep inside the physical world in which they lived and from which their writings took inspiration.
The other side of The Wolf of Wall Street story, by a daughter whose father destroyed his family. Christina McDowell's unflinching memoir is a brutally honest, cautionary tale about one family's destruction in the wake of the Wall Street implosion.
Christina McDowell had to change her name to be legally extricated from the trail of chaos her father, Tom Prousalis, left in the wake of his arrest and subsequent imprisonment as one of the guilty players sucked into the collateral fallout of Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street ). Christina worshipped her father and the seemingly perfect life they lived... a life she finds out was built on lies. Christina's family, as is typically the case, had no idea what was going on.
Nineteen-year-old Christina drove her father to jail while her mother dissolved in denial. Since then, Christina's life has been decimated. As her family floundered in rehab, depression, homelessness and loss, Christina succumbed to the grip of alcohol, drugs and promiscuity before finding catharsis in the most unlikely of places.
From the bucolic affluence of suburban Washington, DC, to the A-list clubs and seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, this provocative memoir unflinchingly describes the harsh realities of a fall from grace. Christina McDowell's beautiful memoir is a Blue Jasmine story from a daughter's perspective.
Without Churchill's inspiring leadership Britain could not have survived its darkest hour and repelled the Nazi menace. Without his wife Clementine, however, he might never have become Prime Minister. By his own admission, the Second World War would have been 'impossible without her'.
Clementine was Winston's emotional rock and his most trusted confidante; not only was she involved in some of the most crucial decisions of war, but she exerted an influence over her husband and the Government that would appear scandalous to modern eyes. Yet her ability to charm Britain's allies and her humanitarian efforts on the Home Front earned her deep respect, both behind closed doors in Whitehall and among the population at large.
That Clementine should become Britain's 'First Lady' was by no means pre-ordained. Born into impecunious aristocracy, her childhood was far from gilded. Her mother was a serial adulteress and gambler, who spent many years uprooting her children to escape the clutches of their erstwhile father, and by the time Clementine entered polite society she had become the target of cruel snobbery and rumours about her parentage.
In Winston, however, she discovered a partner as emotionally insecure as herself, and in his career she found her mission. Her dedication to his cause may have had tragic consequences for their children, but theirs was a marriage that changed the course of history.
Now, acclaimed biographer Sonia Purnell explores the peculiar dynamics of this fascinating union. From the personal and political upheavals of the Great War, through the Churchills' 'wilderness years' in the 1930s, to Clementine's desperate efforts to preserve her husband's health during the struggle against Hitler, Sonia presents the inspiring but often ignored story of one of the most important women in modern history.
In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death. This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It's a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family's survival and the price we pay for love.
From acclaimed journalist Walter Shapiro, the true life story of how his great-uncle a Jewish vaudeville impresario and exuberant con man managed to cheat Hitler s agents in the run-up to WWII.
It was a blustery late spring day in 1954 and a young Oxford medical student flung himself over the line in a mile race. There was an agonising pause, and then the timekeeper announced the record: three minutes, fifty-nine point four seconds. But no one heard anything after that first word - 'three'.
One of the most iconic barriers of sport had been broken, and Roger Bannister had become the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. To this day, more men have conquered Mount Everest than have achieved what the slender, unassuming student managed that afternoon.
Sixty years on and the letters still arrive on Roger Bannister's doormat, letters testifying to the enduring appeal of the four-minute mile and the example it set for the generation of budding athletes who were inspired to attempt the impossible.
In this frank memoir, Sir Roger tells the full story of the talent and dedication that made him not just one of the most celebrated athletes of the last century, but also a distinguished doctor, neurologist and one of the nation's best-loved public figures.
With characteristically trenchant views on drugs in sport, the nature of modern athletics and record-breaking, the extraordinary explosion in running as a leisure activity, and the Olympic legacy, this rare and brilliant autobiography gives a fascinating insight into the life of a man who has lived life to the fullest.
Forbears can become fairy-tale figures, especially when they defy tradition and are spoken of only in whispers. For the biographer and historian Emily Bingham, the secret of who her great-aunt was, and just why her story was buried for so long, led to lrrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham. Raised like a princess in one of the most powerful families in the American South, Henrietta was offered the helm of a publishing empire. Instead, she ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character: intoxicating and intoxicated, selfish and shameful, seductive and brilliant, and often terribly troubled. in New York, Louisville, and London she drove men and women wild with desire, and her youth blazed with sex. But her lesbian love affairs made her the subject of derision and drove a doctor to try to cure her. After the speed and pleasure of her youth, the toxicity ofjudgment coupled with her own anxieties led to years of addiction and breakdowns. Henrietta rode the cultural cusp as a muse to the Bloomsbury group, the daughter of the ambassador to England during the rise of Nazism, the seductress of royalty and athletic champions, and a pre-Stonewall figure who never buckled to convention. Henrietta's audacious physicality made her unforgettable in her own time, and her ecstatic and at times harrowing story brings to life an essential chapter in America's twentieth century.
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa - the author of The Leopard - got married late and against the will of his parents to the Baltic noblewoman Alexandra Wolff. His relationship with Baroness Licy , which had started in the heat of passion and romance, ended in a strange domestic arrangement in which the couple lived thousands of miles apart - Licy in her ancestral home in Latvia, Giuseppe in his run-down palazzo in Palermo - meeting only once or twice a year and exchanging long letters in Stendhalian French. In these letters - here published for the first time - their marriage is laid bare: glowing with a muted emotional fire, they deal with Giuseppe's and Licy's more pressing preoccupations and their fears at the onslaught of War, and include accounts of their diets, observations on their beloved pets and descriptions of encounters with mutual acquaintances. As a whole, they provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind and life of one of the best-loved authors of the twentieth century.
This is the first fully-illustrated biography of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, famous for his pioneering exploration of dreams, the unconscious, and spirituality. Carl Jung continues to be revered today as a true revolutionary who helped to shape psychology, provided a bridge between Western and Eastern spirituality, and brought into general awareness such fundamental concepts as archetypes, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity.
In this important book, Claire Dunne chronicles Jung's journey of self-discovery from a childhood filled with visions both terrifying and profound, through his early professional success, to his rediscovery of spirituality in mid-life. Special attention is paid to the tumultuous relationships between Jung and Sigmund Freud, the unconventional yet vital role performed by his colleague, Toni Wolff, and the revelatory visions Jung experienced following a close brush with death. The words of Jung himself and those who shared his work and private life are shared verbatim, connected by Claire Dunne's lively and accessible commentary and by an evocative array of illustrations including photographs of Jung, his associates, and the environments in which he lived and worked, as well as art images both ancient and contemporary that reflect Jung's teachings.
Jung emerges as a healer whose skills arose from having first attended to the wounds in his own soul. This is an essential work of reference as well as a fascinating and entertaining read for everyone interested in psychology, spirituality, and personal development.
The Climb by Chris Froome - the inspirational memoir from the British winner of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. The Climb tells the extraordinary story of Chris Froome's journey from a young boy in Kenya, riding through townships and past wild animals, and with few opportunities for an aspiring cyclist, to his unforgettable yellow jersey victory in the 2013 Tour de France. A journey unlike any other in the history of cycling, Froome has crossed continents, overcome the death of his mother and conquered debilitating illness to follow his dreams and represent Team GB and Team Sky. He has experienced soaring triumphs, humbling defeats, a public rivalry with Bradley Wiggins and, most recently, the pressures of Lance Armstrong's legacy. Extraordinary, revealing and life-affirming, The Climb is a story of determination, hardship and unimaginable success.
Hugh Hewitt channels his inner James Carville to fully outline - and expose - the massive strengths and enormous weaknesses of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Many reporters have tried to detail Hillary's achievements, predict her actions, or psychoanalyse her contradictions. Hewitt simply takes her as she is - the most ambitious woman in American history - and lays out what is ahead for her second campaign for the presidency, and predicts the way she would deal with the world should she triumph. If by reading this Hewitt gives pause to potential Clinton voters, he will be a happy man. If Hillary triumphs, consider the book the timeliest warning ever delivered.
In the uproarious sequel to Life Among the Savages, the author of The Haunting of Hill House confronts the most vexing demons yet: her children In the long out-of-print sequel to Life Among the Savages, Jackson's four children have grown from savages into full-fledged demons. After bursting the seams of their first house, Jackson's clan moves into a larger home. Of course, the chaos simply moves with them. A confrontation with the IRS, Little League, trumpet lessons, and enough clutter to bury her alive - Jackson spins them all into an indelible reminder that every bit as thrilling as a murderous family in a haunted house is a happy family in a new home.
Five years ago, Tobias Jones and his wife set up a woodland sanctuary for people in a period of crisis in their lives. Windsor Hill Wood quickly becomes a well-known refuge, and a family home is transformed into a small community. Most people arrive because of a desperate need - bereavement, depression, addiction or homelessness - while others come simply because they are dismayed by modern life. A Place of Refuge is the story of an evolving community: the characters and conflicts, the miracles and mistakes. As the seasons turn in the bustling woodland, an ever-changing group of people try to share their money, their meals and ideals; making furniture, growing vegetables and rearing livestock. Encountering both violent antagonism and astounding generosity, the family open up not only their house, but also themselves, to the most demanding of judgements and transformations. This book is not about a retreat from the world, but about a deeper engagement with it. Living alongside troubled guests, Jones examines the consequences of our way of life - seeing up close the scars of war, abuse and loneliness - and contemplates the ways in which nature and stillness offer solace to those in torment.
Karoline Leach's study contends that Carroll was far from being emotionally - and sexually - obsessed with female children and his muse Alice Liddell. She tells the strange story of how the false image of Carroll came into being and how he adored - and was adored by - women of all ages and enjoyed adult relationships that would have scandalized the Victorian age in which he lived. The author gained access to unpublished evidence from the family archive, as well as letters and diaries, that led her to uncover Carroll's secret passion for another member of Alice's family. In The Shadow of The Dreamchild is a radical re-evaluation of the life and work of one of England's most mysterious literary figures, and the revised edition expands on Leach's important research.
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world's most ruthless and secretive dictatorships - and the story of one woman's terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told the best on the planet?
Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family. She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities - involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive.
Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable. This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo's escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life - not once, but twice - first in China, then in South Korea.
Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.
Alison Pick was born in the 1970s and raised in a loving, supportive family, but as a teenager she made a discovery that changed her understanding of who she was for ever. She learned that her Pick grandparents, who had escaped from Czechoslovakia during WWII, were Jewish, and that most of this side of the family had died in concentration camps. At this stage she realised that her own father had kept this a secret from Alison and her sister. Engaged to be married to her longterm boyfriend but in the grip of a crippling depression, Alison began to uncover her Jewish heritage, a quest which challenged all her assumptions about her faith, her future, and what it meant to raise a family. An unusual and gripping story, told with all the nuance and drama of a novel, this is a memoir illuminated with heartbreaking insight into the very real lives of the dead, and hard-won hope for all those who carry on after.
The writer David Plante has kept a diary of his life among the artistic elite for over half a century. It is an extraordinary document, both deeply personal and a rare window onto disappearing worlds. This extracted memoir spans the 1980s, a period of exploration and growth for Plante and his lover Nikos Stangos, a partnership which will endure for forty years. David Plante and Nikos Stangos first made a life together in London in the mid-sixties, when as newcomers they were introduced by Stephen Spender to his circle, connections criss-crossing, dazzlingly, through the air of their adopted city, interconnecting so many admired figures. Now navigating worlds beyond London - from a house-share with Germaine Greer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to a trip to Jerusalem with Philip Roth; from the loss of parents to the growing spectre of AIDS; and in New York, Umbria, Lucca, the Aegean and rural Ireland - these are stories of expanding horizons and of a deepening and developing love: the challenges of monogamy, the strains of separation, of a growing maturity and awareness - and of what it is to belong. Worlds Apart is a poignant, moving portrait of a relationship and a luminous evocation of a world of writers, poets, artists and thinkers.
At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger's voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency's decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger's devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back...
Vaclav Havel: iconoclast and philosopher-king, an internationally successful playwright who became a political dissident and then, reluctantly, a president. His pivotal role in the Velvet Revolution, the end of Communism and the birth of a modern, west-facing Czech Republic makes him a key figure of the twentieth century. He was a character of great contradictions, a courageous visionary who put his life at risk, a leader who inspired great loyalty; yet a man wracked with doubt, self-criticism, depression and despair. Above all he was an intellectual and artist, always true to himself, someone who never lost a profound sense of the absurd. Michael antovsky was one of Havel's closest friends. They met as dissidents under Communism, and when a frail Havel was released from prison in May 1989 just months before the Velvet Revolution it was antovsky who carried his bag for him; during Havel's first presidency antovsky was his press secretary, speech writer and translator, and their friendship endured until Havel's death in 2011. He is therefore uniquely placed as Havel's biographer; a rare witness to this most extraordinary life.