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Author: Secretary

Souden, David

David Souden

Sattin, Anthony

Anthony Sattin

Knightley, Phillip

Phillip Knightley

Glendinning, Victoria

Victoria Glendinning

Fraser, Antonia

Lady Antonia Fraser

Foreman, Amanda

Amanda Foreman

Fishburn, Victoria

Victoria Fishburn

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Recent and Forthcoming Biographies

March-July 2012

Mary I by J. Edwards, Yale, £25. This is a major biography of one of England’s most controversial sovereigns. Drawing on new research, Edwards presents England’s ‘last Catholic queen’ in a sympathetic light.

Edward III by W. M. Ormrod, Yale, £30. The latest in a shelf-busting series of English monarchs. Written by a distinguished expert, this surveys England at the outset of the Hundred Years War.

Queen Elizabeth. Her Life in Our Times by S. Bradford, Viking, £20. A lively and evocative portrait of the Queen by acclaimed royal biographer Sarah Bradford.

Our Queen by K. Hardman, Hutchinson, £20. A timely and elegant short study of the reign of the present queen. A welcome addition to this year’s formidable collection.

A Brief Life of the Queen by R. Lacey, Duckworth, £9.99. Yes, another brilliant work by Robert Lacey, the veteran journalist and author. This is the best short study of the queen in print.

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj by A. de Courcy, Weidenfeld, £20. At the height of the Raj, countless young women went to India in search of a husband. They were called the ‘Fishing Fleet’. Anne de Courcy tells their story with wit and wisdom.

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by T. Penn. Schuster, £20. A brilliant popular study of the first Tudor king, now out in paperback.

Dr Johnson in the Company of Women by K. Chisholn, Chatto & Windus, £25. The figure of Dr Johnson, the greatest of all men of letters, still towers in the literary world. This amusing new study looks at him through the lens of the women he knew.

Philip of Spain, King of England by H. Kessey, IB Tauris, £18.99. An impressive popular study of Philip II of Spain, focusing particularly on his role as consort to his wife, Mary I.

Rabelais by M. Huchan. Gallimard, £26. An impressive French study of the greatest of the bon vivants, Rabelais remains a figure of great interest on both sides of the Channel for his humour and literary skill.

Saussure by J. E. Joseph, OUP, £30. An epic biography of the inventor of modern linguistics. Joseph presents a details scholarly account which is both readable and entertaining.

A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes by L. Miller, Alma Books £25. A moving authorised biography of the First World War’s only female soldier. Charting her rise from tomboyish childhood to soldier in the trenches, this is a harrowing tale of love and endeavour.

Muckraker: the scandalous life and times of W. T. Stead, Britain’s first investigative journalist, by W. Sydney Robinson, Robson Press, £20. Since his death aboard the Titanic 100 years ago, Stead, the inventor of tabloid journalism, has never had proper biographical treatment – until now. Robinson presents Stead as a flawed hero, though nevertheless a prince of journalists.

September 2011-March 2012
The Admiral Benbow: The Life and Times of a Naval Legend by S. Wills, Quercus, December, £14.99. Pirate-slayer, pirate and buccaneer, Admiral Benbow became famous for having the men under his command put to death for their disobedience. This sympathetic new biography puts this controversial and little known career into perspective.
Captain Cook: Master of the Seas by F. McLynn, Yale University Press, January 2012, £25. This is the third biography of Captain Cook to appear in the last few years, but it is a valuable contribution to a subject who still continues to fascinate readers all over the world.
Churchill by Ashley Jackson, Quercus, February 2012, £20. This book will be devoured by all who cannot get enough of the great man, but will not be missed by those who have already had their fill.
Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People by Andrew Marr, Macmillan, October 2011, £25. A blockbuster biography of the world’s most famous monarch by Britain’s most ubiquitous journalist. A formidable combination.
Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of a Century by Masha Gressen, Icon, March 2012, £7.99. This is a book about a Russian maths genius who cracked one of the greatest academic problems of the twentieth century – and then disappeared back into his mother’s flat never to be seen again. Trust me, it’s worth reading.
James Joyce: A Biography by G. Bowker, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, January 2012, £20. Joyce remains an elusive subject for his biographer, but this highly-readable account succeeds where many others have failed.
The Shah, Abbas Milani, Palgrave Macmillan, February 2012, £14.99. This is the most authoritative biography of the man who led Iran in its pre-Revolutionary glory – and imperfection. Himself an emigre, Milani explores the life of this important historical figure with sympathy but not with undue nostalgia.
Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor by Hugo Vickers, Hutchinson, October, 2011, £20. One of two notable biographies of Wallis Simpson released in the last few months. Hugo Vickers draws on his profound knowledge of aristocratic society to provide this highly-sympathetic account.
Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy by Helen Rappaport, Hutchinson, March 2012, £20. After her husband’s death at the age of 41, Queen Victoria entered into a state of mourning that surpassed even the length of the late Albert’s life. In this superb new account, Helen Rappaport explores this phase of the reign and the effect it had on the monarchy in general.
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, September 2011, £20. Acclaimed biography of the woman who cost Edward VIII the throne. Described by many as the definitive account, renowned biographer Anne Sebba has unearthed a wealth of information including a new cache of letters. A must read.
July-September, 2011
Brenda Colvin: A Career in Landscape, by Trish Gibson, Frances Lincoln, July 2011, £35. Brenda Colvin revolutionised garden and landscape design in the mid-twentieth century, with her concept of ‘wild gardening’. This controversial technique, as well as the obscure personality of its creature, are carefully worked through in this interesting biography of an unfairly forgotten master-gardener.
The Chronicles of John Cannon, excise officer and writing master, by John Money (ed.), OUP, July 2011, £65 & £70 (2 vols.). The memoirs of John Cannon, a West Country excise official, have been known of for many years, but only now have they become accessible to a wider public. These two stout volumes take the reader through the everyday life of this fascinating individual, whose treatment of sex, marriage and social mores is often surprisingly modern.
The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History, by Mary S. Lovell, August, 2011, Little, Brown, £25. The Churchills have been studied endlessly, but with good reason. From the battlefield of Blenheim to the Battle of Britain, they have been at the centre of British history. This quirky and original portrait of the family will amuse some readers, but many will be disappointed by its candid superficiality.
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography, by J. A. Hall, July 2011, Verso, £29.99. Ernest Gellner was one of the foremost anthropologists of his era. Having experienced cultural and ethnographic dislocation in the aftermath of the break-up of the Hapsburg Empire, he devoted himself to the study of nations and nationalism. This biography draws an interesting parallel between his life and work.  
The Man Who Invented the Daleks – The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation, by A. W. Turner, July 2011, Aurum, £20. Since the appearance of Dr Who in 1963, the Daleks have terrified and fascinated entire generations of schoolchildren – and adults. This biography throws much light of the elusive man who brought them, and the celebrated series, into being.
Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer, by Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Bloomsbury, July 2011, £25. Kenneth Clark believed Samuel Palmer to be ‘the English Van Gogh’, a visionary who was neglected in his lifetime, yet today he remains hardly known. His idyllic landscapes, depicting corners of England still untouched by the effects of the Industrial Revolution, remain minor masterpieces. This portrait of his life is both meticulous and enjoyable to read.
April-June, 2011
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba, Pheonix,  June 2011, £9.99. Over seventy years since instigating one of the most serious crises in the history of the Royal Family, opinions about ‘that woman’ Wallis Simpson remain divided. In this authoritative new biography, Anne Sebba expores the life of a woman for whom a king gave up his throne and a nation briefly courted republicanism.
Ed: Ed Miliband and the re-making of the Labour Party by J. Macintyre and M. Hasan, BiteBack, June, 2011, £16.99. Two Labour journalists give the official account of Ed Miliband’s rise to the leadership of their party.
 Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. Allen Lane, April 2011, £30. Almost half a century after his death, opinion is still very much divided: to some Malcolm X remains the defiant hero of the Civil Rights movement, second in importance only to his friend, Martin Luther King; to others he was a dangerous separatist who encouraged deeper segregation between black and white communities, as well as between Christians and what he provocatively called ‘the Nation of Islam’. This biography, the most detailed for more than a decade, gives new life to the controversy.
No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf by Carolyn Burke. Bloomsbury, April 2011, £20. Born in a Parisian slum, Edith Piaf began singing on street corners at the behest of her five-foot tall trapeze artist father. She was soon discovered by a nightclub owner and began a glittering but drug-fuelled career which ended with her death at the age of 47. By then she was an international superstar, but she also looked closer to 70 than 40. This worthy tribute to her life and legacy is fittingly entitled ‘No Regrets’.
The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of V.S. Naipaul by Patrick French. Picador, April 2011, £20. Few writing careers have been as dramatic as V.S. Naipaul’s. Self-made, largely self-taught and somewhat self-obsessed, Naipaul has dazzled and offended the reading public for more than fifty years. This astonishingly frank, and often highly critical, authorised biography will be remembered as one of the most important literary lives of the decade.
G.K. Chesterton by Ian Ker. OUP, April 2011, £35. It doesn’t seem long since the last biography of Chesterton, but as one of the most popular and voluminous writers of all time this book is eagerly anticipated.
Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII by Robert Hutchinson. Weidenfeld, April 2011, £20. The critically acclaimed historian Robert Hutchinson examines the first 35 years in the reign of Henry VIII.
House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles by Evelyn Juers. Allen Lane, May 2011, £25. The circle of Thomas Mann and his older brother, Heinrich, encompassed a world of proud intellectual liberalism that was obliterated by the rise of Nazism. In this wide-ranging account, author Evelyn Juers paints a convincing, and often tragic, picture of the authors’ gradual disenchantment with the country they loved.
Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil and Legend by Leigh Montville. Doubleday, May 2011, £18.99. Motorbike fanatic ‘Evel’ Knievel shot to international fame in 1967 when he attempted to ride his bike over the ­vast fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He failed. But the attempt secured him the unenviable position of ‘the world’s most famous daredevil’. For years he performed for television audiences of millions, jumping rows of trucks, school buses and on one spectacular occasion a canyon. This biography suggests that there was a troubled and somewhat disturbed individual behind the legend.
Frank: The Making of a Legend by James Kaplan. Sphere, May 2011, £25. Born on the dirty floor of a tenement in New Jersey, Frank Sinatra grew up to become one of the most admired, and notorious, singers in history. This detailed biography focuses exclusively on his path to fame and fortune – the years before 1954. Kaplan portrays his subject as a tough but sensitive artist whose connections with organised crime may have been exaggerated.
SNOW: The double life of a World War II Spy by N. West and M. Rogers, BiteBack, £20.00. SNOW was the codename assigned to Arthur Owens, one of the most remarkable British spies of the Second World War. This ‘typical Welsh underfed type’ became the first of the great double-cross agents who were to play a major part in Britain’s victory over the Germans.
James Joyce by Gordon Bowker. Weidenfeld, May 2011, £25. Few subjects could offer more hope and despair to their biographers that James Joyce. Gordon Bowker’s new study attempts to untangle the man from his cryptic fiction.
January-March 2011
Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh by Bryan Niblett. Kramedart Press, January 2011, £19.99. Charles Bradlaugh was the first openly atheist MP and an early promoter of contraception. Bryan Niblett’s study offers a window into Victorian culture, which remains topical today.
Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight. W.W. Norton, February 2011, £22. In this landmark biography, Jane Addams (1860-1935) becomes America’s most admired and most hated woman – and wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Louise W. Knight shows Addams’s boldness, creativity and tenacity as she sought ways to put the ideals of democracy into action as a progressive political force; an advocate for women’s suffrage; an advisor to presidents; a co-founder of civil rights organisations, including the NAACP; and a leader for international peace.
Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg. OUP, February 2011, £25. Germany’s gruff, snobbish but brilliant chancellor was at the centre of European politics for more than two generations. This latest account portrays him as a man of flesh and blood as well as iron.
The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 1716-83 by Jane Brown. Chatto and Windus, March 2011, £20. As Britain’s most famous gardener, Capability Brown had an influence on eighteenth-century culture to an extent almost unimaginable today. This new biography surveys his achievement and explores his intricate personality.
George Gershwin by Larry Starr. Yale, January 2011, £30. Only since his death has Gershwin been acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Larry Starr’s new biography gives the man his due.
Henry VIII: A Life by David Loades. Amberly Publishing, February 2011, £25. A new biography of England’s most famous monarch might seem superfluous were it not written by one of the greatest historians of his generation.
Katherine of Aragon by Julia Fox. Weidenfeld, February 2011, £20. The story of the woman at the heart of the Reformation is compellingly narrated from Katherine’s point of view as Julia Fox explores her subject’s inner world.  This comprehensive biography promises to be of interest to general readers as well as Tudor addicts.
Arthur Miller: 1962-2005 by Christopher Bigsby. Weidenfeld, February 2011, £30. The second volume of Christopher Bigsby’s monumental Life of Arthur Miller will be required reading for devotees of American theatre.
Sir Walter Raleigh: Life and Legend by Mark Nicholls. Continuum, February 2011, £25. Pirate or patriot? It remains a question worth asking of Elizabeth I’s ill-fated favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh. Mark Nicholls addresses both this question and Raleigh’s posthumous reputation.
Ravel by Roger Nichols. Yale, February 2011, £25. One of the most enigmatic composers of the early twentieth century is studied in remarkable detail by the esteemed musicologist Roger Nichols.
Edith Sitwell: Avante Garde Poet by Richard Green. Virago, February 2011, £25. Edith Sitwell’s star shone brightly during her long life. This new biography emphasises that her poetry, with its unique lyricism and musicality, deserves wider recognition today.