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Philip Hoare was born and brought up in Southampton. At college in London in 1976, he became involved in the punk movement, returning to Southampton to produce fanzines, manage groups and design album sleeves. After working for Virgin and Rough Trade, he set up his own independent label in Hackney, releasing records by 23 Skidoo and the Pale Fountains, and managed Max, the group formed by Kevin Mooney of Adam & the Ants.
In 1990 Philip Hoare published his first book, Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant, an account of the outrageous and reclusive Wiltshire aristocrat which appeared on bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic. Reviewing it for the New York Times, film director John Waters called it 'witty and amazing…both scholarly and hilarious at the same time'. Noel Coward: A Biography, (1995) was acclaimed by Sheridan Morley as 'the definitive biography', and reviewing Wilde's Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy & the First World War (1997) Simon Callow wrote in the Sunday Times: 'Hoare has identified one of the key moments in the formation of the modern world, and he has documented it with dazzling brilliance.'
Hoare was consultant to the BBC2 Arena: Noel Coward Trilogy of three one-hour films broadcast over Easter 1998 in the UK, and in January 1999 on PBS in the US. He has lectured at literary festivals in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Charleston, at the National Portrait and Tate galleries, and the Royal Festival Hall on subjects ranging from punk rock to Noel Coward. In 1998, together with Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, he curated an exhibition of photographs of Coward as part of the Twentieth-Century Blues project, at the NPG and the Photographer's Gallery. He also appeared in the BBC Omnibus film on Oscar Wilde, and was script consultant to BBC Knowledge's recent Wilde Night. In November 1998, his film for the BBC2 series, Travels With Pevsner, was praised as 'masterful' by John Preston in the Sunday Telegraph. In summer 1999 he co-curated Icons of Pop at the National Portrait Gallery, an exhibition of British pop photography which drew a record 226,000 visitors to the gallery.
Hoare has also appeared on BBC2's Newsnight and CNN's Larry King Show. He has made many appearances on radio, contributing to and presenting programmes for BBC Radio 4, and is a regular contributor to the Independent, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. His latest work of non-fiction, Spike Island, was published by Fourth Estate in 2001. He divides his time between London and Southampton.
Winner of the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Since the days of Moby Dick and before, man has held in awe the planet’s largest mammal and rightly so; they are magnificent and fascinating creatures. Philip Hoare has had his obsession with these creatures since childhood and in this wonderful book we follow him around the world as he follows these mesmerising creatures of the deep.
An illuminating exploration of the intersection between life, art and the sea from the award-winning author of Leviathan. 'This is a wonderful book. A lyrical journey into the natural and unnatural world ... Leading us from the hands of an engraver to the monstrous beauty dwelling in the churning seas' Patti Smith Albrecht Durer changed the way we saw nature through art. From his prints in 1498 of the plague ridden Apocalypse - the first works mass produced by any artist - to his hyper-real images of animals and plants, his art was a revelation: it showed us who we are but it also foresaw our future. It is a vision that remains startlingly powerful and seductive, even now. In Albert & the Whale, Philip Hoare sets out to discover why Durer's art endures. He encounters medieval alchemists and modernist poets, eccentric emperors and queer soul rebels, ambassadorial whales and enigmatic pop artists. He witnesses the miraculous birth of Durer's fantastical rhinoceros and his hermaphroditic hare, and he traces the fate of the star-crossed leviathan that the artist pursued. And as the author swims from Europe to America and beyond, these prophetic artists and downed angels provoke awkward questions. What is natural or unnatural? Is art a fatal contract? Or does it in fact have the power to save us? With its wild and watery adventures, its witty accounts of amazing cultural lives and its delight in the fragile beauty of the natural world, Albert & the Whale offers glorious, inspiring insights into a great artist, and his unerring, sometimes disturbing gaze.
Rich and strange from the tip of its title to its deep-sunk bones' Robert Macfarlane From the author of Leviathan, or, The Whale, comes a composite portrait of the subtle, beautiful, inspired and demented ways in which we have come to terms with our watery planet. In the third of his watery books, the author goes in pursuit of human and animal stories of the sea. Of people enchanted or driven to despair by the water, accompanied by whales and birds and seals - familiar spirits swimming and flying with the author on his meandering odyssey from suburbia into the unknown. Along the way, he encounters drowned poets and eccentric artists, modernist writers and era-defining performers, wild utopians and national heroes - famous or infamous, they are all surprisingly, and sometimes fatally, linked to the sea. Out of the storm-clouds of the twenty-first century and our restive time, these stories reach back into the past and forward into the future. This is a shape-shifting world that has never been certain, caught between the natural and unnatural, where the state between human and animal is blurred. Time, space, gender and species become as fluid as the sea. Here humans challenge their landbound lives through art or words or performance or myth, through the animal and the elemental. And here they are forever drawn back to the water, forever lost and found on the infinite sea.
A startling book, his most personal to date, from Philip Hoare, co-curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read and winner of the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize for 'Leviathan'. The sea surrounds us. It gives us life, provides us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is ceaseless change and constant presence. It covers two-thirds of our planet. Yet caught up in our everyday lives, we barely notice it. In 'The Sea Inside', Philip Hoare sets out to rediscover the sea, its islands, birds and beasts. He begins on the south coast where he grew up, a place of almost monastic escape. From there he travels to the other side of the world - the Azores, Sri Lanka, New Zealand - in search of encounters with animals and people. Navigating between human and natural history, he asks what these stories mean for us now. Along the way we meet an amazing cast; from scientists to tattooed warriors; from ravens to whales and bizarre creatures that may, or may not, be extinct. Part memoir, part fantastical travelogue, 'The Sea Inside' takes us on an astounding journey of discovery.
'A shocking tale of heroes and villains.' Sir Ian McKellen In 1918, the Imperialist newspaper made a startling claim. The German Secret Service had the names of 47,000 members of the British establishment who were sexual deviants and Britain was losing the war because Germany was blackmailing them. In the sensational libel trial that followed, the main target was Maud Allan, the Salome dancer with high society connections and a dark secret. Meanwhile, Oscar Wilde's closest friends were drawn into the affair in a bitter battle for his reputation. It was the greatest scandal of the early twentieth century. This is a story of judges and prejudice, of aesthetes and admirals, of MPs and dancing girls, of sex and conspiracy; ingredients for a modern tabloid, yet in a decade that still seems a Victorian legacy. Philip Hoare has produced a revolutionary new portrait of British society, as nineteenth century morality and Edwardian opulence met the modern age. Wilde's Last Stand tells of transvestites in the trenches, of drug clubs in London, and of the man who sought to be Britain's first fascist leader. Both revealing and chilling, this is a vital story about the birth of a troubled century. Philip Hoare is an acclaimed author whose works include biographies of Stephen Tennant and Noel Coward, Spike Island and England's Lost Eden. His book, Leviathan: or, The Whale won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction. 'Documented with dazzling brilliance.' The Sunday Times 'A valuable addition to the alternative history of our century.' Peter Parker, Observer 'A thrashing good read.' Independent on Sunday
The story of Netley in Southampton - its hospital, its people and the secret history of the 20th-century. Now with a new afterword uncovering astonishing evidence of Netley's links with Porton Down & experiments with LSD in the 1950s. It was the biggest hospital ever built. Stretching for a quarter of a mile along the banks of Southampton Water, the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley was an expression of Victorian imperialism in a million red bricks, a sprawling behemoth so vast that when the Americans took it over in World War II, GIs drove their jeeps down its corridors. Born out of the bloody mess of the Crimean War, it would see the first women serving in the military, trained by Florence Nightingale; the first vaccine for typhoid; and the first purpos- built military asylum. Here Wilfred Owen would be brought along with countless other shell-shocked victims of World War I - captured on film, their tremulous ghosts still haunted the asylum a generation later. In Spike Island, Philip Hoare has written a biography of a building. In the process he deals with his own past, and his own relationship to its history.