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Piers Dudgeon is a writer, editor and photographer. Born in 1949, he worked for ten years as a publisher in London and then started his own company, publishing a number of bestsellers with authors as diverse as Daphne du Maurier, John Fowles, Edward de Bono, Shirley Conran and Susan Hill. Since 1989 he has worked as a journalist and written nine works of non-fiction. In 1993 he moved with his wife and three children to a village on the North Yorkshire moors, where he is setting up a residential school for writers and artists.
Michael Llewelyn Davies was the fourth of five brothers who provided the inspiration for J. M. Barrie's characters Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Darling brothers. Barrie struck up an intense friendship with the children and their parents when he encountered them playing in London's Kensington Gardens, an area that would become the Neverland of his most enduring work. Something of the innocence of Michael, who stood out even among his brothers, went on to influence the creation of Barrie's most famous character, Peter Pan. Such was Barrie's closeness to the Llewelyn Davies family that he became trustee and guardian to the boys following the deaths of their parents. Theirs was an enduring relationship, particularly that between Barrie and Michael, to whom he wrote daily, but it was punctuated by the fiercest of tragedies. Throughout the heart-rending saga of Barrie's involvement with the Llewelyn Davies brothers, it is the figure of Michael, the most original and inspirational of their number, and yet also the one whose fate is most pitiable, that stands out. The Real Peter Pan is a captivating true story of childhood, friendship, war, love and regret.
Maeve Binchy's heart-warming tales of love, life and loss made her one of Ireland's most celebrated writers. Seared with a truth and honesty that leapt from the page, her books captured the imagination and loyalty of millions of readers, for whom there was no greater storyteller. In his bestselling biography, Piers Dudgeon gives a privileged insight into a life at once so familiar and yet so extraordinary, played against the backdrop of her favourite character: Ireland. Here, Maeve, who always had so much love to give, experienced the agonies of growing up the girl that nobody wanted to dance with, and the student who could never live up to her parents' hopes. Here, finally, she came to question the dogma that surrounded her, and found her own path, liberated from the narrow rules of convention. Maeve Binchy: The Biography reveals her triumphant struggle, and presents a powerful tribute to a phenomenal storytelling talent.
The definitive biography of Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of twenty-one top-of-the-lists blockbuster bestsellers, starting with A Woman of SubstanceFor the first time ever, take a fascinating look at the remarkable life of Barbara Taylor Bradford. Her first book, A Woman of Substance, is one of the bestselling novels of all time and has made her one of the most successful authors in the world. Yet her rise to fame and fortune was not an easy one. Barbara came from humble beginnings in Yorkshire, the only daughter of a laborer and a nanny. From an early age, her mother Freda had marked her daughter out for glory---at any cost. This drive, ambition, and desire to triumph helped Barbara take the Yorkshire Evening Post and Fleet Street by storm. But her biggest achievement was undeniably A Woman of Substance. The novel's unforgettable heroine, Emma Harte, was a powerful, success-fuelled woman whose rise from kitchen maid to international business woman was an inspiration to women the world over. Emma's life is a testament to Barbara's imagination but here, for the first time, Piers Dudgeon unearths amazing parallels in the lives of Barbara's fictional characters and her real-life family. More remarkable still is that Barbara herself was previously completely unaware of these deeply buried secrets. In this incredible story, fact and fiction exist side by side and art unwittingly imitates life.This is the first time Barbara Taylor Bradford has collaborated on a memoir of her amazing life. Full of revelations, it's as absorbing a read as any one of her bestsellers.
OUR LIVERPOOL is an oral history about the real Liverpool - about the city before its slick transformation to European City of Culture and about the spirit that remains at its heart. Here, at last, is Liverpool's grievous and glorious past. And here, through the people's voices, we find old Liverpool, without the gift-wrap. Its stories pulsate with the rhythms of an alternately funny, flippant, belligerent, stubborn and warm heart, and they broadcast the values of a community, which are the city's true legacy to the modern world. Piers Dudgeon has listened to dozens of people who remember the city as it was, and who have lived through its many changes. They talk of childhood and education, of work and entertainment, of family, community values, health, politics, religion and music. Their stories will make you laugh and cry. It is people's own memories that make history real and this engrossing book captures them vividly.
This oral history of Glasgow spans most of the last century - a time of economic downturn and eventual renewal, in which the many communities making up the city experienced upheavals that tore some apart and brought others closer together. It tells of the beating heart of no mean city in the words of the people who made it what it is. Piers Dudgeon has listened to dozens of people who remember the city as it was, and who have lived through its many changes. They talk of childhood and education, of work and entertainment, of family, community values, health, politics, religion and music. Their stories will make you laugh and cry. It is people's own memories that make history real and this engrossing book captures them vividly.
J. M. Barrie has long been a controversial figure; as D. H. Lawrence observed in 1921, 'Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die'. The five nervous breakdowns, two suicides, one attempted suicide and numerous deaths that are associated with him blacken the reputation of a man adored by generations of children. However, what is less well known is that Barrie's malign influence grew out of his infatuation with the du Maurier family, particularly with the hypnotist, George du Maurier, creator of Svengali; with George's daughter and grandsons (models for the Darlings in Peter Pan); and with his enigmatic granddaughter, Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca and Barrie's final victim, whose life and work can never again be considered without reference to 'Unlce Jim'.
This oral history of London's East End spans the period after the First World War to the upsurge of prosperity at the beginning of the 60s - a time which saw fresh waves of immigrants in the area, the Fascist marches of the 30s and its spirited recovery after virtual obliteration during the Blitz. Piers Dudgeon has listened to dozens of people who remember this fiercely proud quarter to record their real-life experiences of what it was like before it was fashionable to buy a home in the Docklands. They talk of childhood and education, of work and entertainment, of family, community values, health, politics, religion and music. Their stories will make you laugh and cry. It is people's own memories that make history real and this engrossing book captures them vividly.
Catherine Cookson was born 100 years ago in a run-down area on the south bank of the Tyne. Forty-four years later her debut novel, Kate Hannigan, established her as a bestselling storyteller of rare talent. But what readers didn't realise was that Kate Hannigan also represented the first step of the author's triumph over a nervous breakdown and a period of confinement in a mental asylum. Still in the throes of her illness, she was transforming her fears out of necessity through her art. Piers Dudgeon was granted exclusive interviews over a 15-year period until Catherine's death in 1998. Now, in the company of her family and others who declined to be interviewed during her lifetime, he sheds new light on the tortured drama of her personal life and her legacy to the nation. This revised biography is a revealing tribute to an enduringly popular writer in her centenary year, and will fascinate her many loyal fans.
A fascinating insight into the life of one of the country's bestselling and best-loved authors, marrying her work with her extraordinary life, and looking at her rise to fame and fortune against all the odds.`Everything I have touched in my life figures in my books. Every single book I write has something that has happened to me or my family or to my friends.'Josephine Cox was born in Blackburn during its decline as the cotton-weaving capital of the world. Life was hard but characterful, the joys and tragedies of her youth later inspiring her multi-million selling novels.One of ten children, Josephine knew poverty, hunger and charity. Between births, her mother worked in the cotton mills, her father on the roads. Sleeping up to six in a bed, her family lived in the tightly packed, working-class terraces of Blackburn. But Josephine never felt victimised or shamed.Transforming their closed-in community into one that inspired `another kind of love, a deep sense of belonging' were the characters Josephine writes about in her novels with such fondness and feeling.But alas reality was not always so easy. Hand in hand with poverty came deprivation and domestic difficulties. At the end of her tether, Jo's mother gathered her children around her in the bus station one day and announced they were leaving Blackburn. Josephine was fourteen years old. Not only did she lose her friends, she also lost her brothers too who were left behind. `Belonging to a street, to a place, to a family, is the most important thing.' Out of this tremendous loss, Josephine's novels were born.