Michael Holroyd - Author

About the Author

Besides the Lives of Augustus John, Bernard Shaw and Lytton Strachey (which was filmed as Carrington), Michael Holroyd has written two volumes of memoirs, Basil Street Blues and Mosaic. His most recent book, A Strange Eventful History, winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Biography, was a biography of theatre greats Ellen Terry and Henry Irving and their children. He has been president of the Royal Society of Literature and is the first non-fiction writer to have been awarded the British Literature Prize. He lives in London and Somerset with his wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble.

Featured books by Michael Holroyd

Other books by Michael Holroyd

Facts and Fiction A Book of Storytelling

Facts and Fiction A Book of Storytelling

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/06/2018

A captivating collection of pieces about the art of narration by Britain's finest biographer, Michael Holroyd In Facts and Fiction, Michael Holroyd reflects on the eccentricities of the art of writing about others. With characteristic playfulness and guilefulness, he considers the ways in which lives can be written about (and painted), with all the subtle differences of design and intention that this entails. From Rudyard Kipling to forgetfulness, the glories of Mary Norton's Borrowers books to fellow biographers like Richard Holmes and Alexander Masters, Holroyd tackles an eclectic range of topics. He discusses his life at the mercy of subjects who have led him all over the world - and often into other people's families uninvited. With wit, warmth and humour, he reflects on the unlikely ways he arrives at his subjects, and how the process of building their narratives is often a disturbing experience: so consuming that, when completed, he feels as if he has had a holiday from himself. Facts and Fiction questions what we can know about ourselves and each other, and most importantly, how we can know it. It is a unique insight into the mind of a master.

Facts and Fiction A Book of Storytelling

Facts and Fiction A Book of Storytelling

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2018

A captivating collection of pieces about the art of narration by Britain's finest biographer, Michael Holroyd In this collection of pieces, Michael Holroyd reflects on the eccentricities of the art of writing about others. With characteristic playfulness and guilefulness, he considers the ways in which lives can be written about (and painted), with all the subtle differences of design and intention that this entails. From Kipling to forgetfulness, Princess Diana's butler Paul Burrell to fellow biographers like Richard Holmes and the fathers of British biography, Boswell and Johnson, Holroyd tackles a rich and vibrant array of topics. He discusses his life at the mercy of subjects who have led him all over the world - and often into other people's families uninvited. With wit, warmth and humour, he reflects on the unlikely ways he arrives at his subjects, and how the process of building their narratives is often a disturbing experience: so consuming that, when completed, he feels as if he has had a holiday from himself. Featuring writing originally published in the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, the Telegraph and elsewhere, Facts and Fiction provides unique insight into the mind of a master.

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

Author: Michael Holroyd, Rebecca John Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/05/2018

'It is right that, after more than one hundred years, she should have her say' John Carey, Sunday Times Twelve days before her twenty-fourth birthday, on the foggy morning of Saturday 12 January 1901, Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in a private ceremony at St Pancras Registry Office. The union went against the wishes of Ida's parents, who aspired to an altogether more conventional match for their eldest daughter. But Ida was in love with Augustus, a man of exceptional magnetism also studying at the Slade, and who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. Ida's letters - to friends, to family and to Augustus - reveal a young woman of passion, intensity and wit. They tell of the scandal she brought on the Nettleship family and its consquences; of hurt and betrayal as the marriage evolved into a three-way affair when Augustus fell in love with another woman, Dorelia; of Ida's remarkable acceptance of Dorelia, their pregnancies and shared domesticity; of self-doubt, happiness and despair; and of finding the strength and courage to compromise and navigate her unorthodox marriage. Ida is a naturally gifted writer, and it is with a candour, intimacy and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that her correspondence opens up her world. Ida John died aged just thirty of puerperal fever following the birth of her fifth son, but in these vivid, funny and sometimes devastatingly sad letters she is startlingly alive on the page.

Ancestors in the Attic Including My Great-Grandmother's Book of Ferns and My Aunt's Book of Silent Actors

Ancestors in the Attic Including My Great-Grandmother's Book of Ferns and My Aunt's Book of Silent Actors

Author: Michael Holroyd, Martin Rickard Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/10/2017

Michael Holroyd, perhaps the most distinguished of contemporary biographers, has in recent years turned his attention to the stories hidden within his own fascinating (not to say eccentric) family. In Ancestors in the Attic he teases out two especially intriguing episodes, the tales of his great-grandmother and his aunt, which he categorizes respectively as tragedy and comedy. He tells their stories not only in words but also in pictures, through two very different collections made by the women, which he discovered in the attic of a house in Maidenhead: the ferns preserved and stitched into beautiful, intricate patterns by his tragic greatgrandmother, Anne Eliza Holroyd, in the 1870s; and the photographs of silent movie actors collected by his lively young aunt, Yolande Holroyd, in the 1920s. Included here are two volumes My Great-Grandmother's Book of Ferns and My Aunt's Book of Silent Actors a fascinating record of a very special family history. My Great-Grandmother's Book of Ferns includes a foreword by leading pteridologist Martin Rickard. Christopher Fraser-Jenkins, world expert on Indian ferns, has identified, and provided a commentary on, the ferns used by Anne Eliza Holroyd.

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

Author: Michael Holroyd, Rebecca John Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/05/2017

Captivatingly fresh and intimate letters from Augustus John's first wife, Ida, reveal the untold story of married life with one of the great artists of the last century. Twelve days before her twenty-fourth birthday, on the foggy morning of Saturday 12 January 1901, Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in a private ceremony at St Pancras Registry Office. The union went against the wishes of Ida's parents, who aspired to an altogether more conventional match for their eldest daughter. But Ida was in love with Augustus, a man of exceptional magnetism also studying at the Slade, and who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. Ida's letters - to friends, to family and to Augustus - reveal a young woman of passion, intensity and wit. They tell of the scandal she brought on the Nettleship family and its consquences; of hurt and betrayal as the marriage evolved into a three-way affair when Augustus fell in love with another woman, Dorelia; of Ida's remarkable acceptance of Dorelia, their pregnancies and shared domesticity; of self-doubt, happiness and despair; and of finding the strength and courage to compromise and navigate her unorthodox marriage. Ida is a naturally gifted writer, and it is with a candour, intimacy and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that her correspondence opens up her world. Ida John died aged just thirty of puerperal fever following the birth of her fifth son, but in these vivid, funny and sometimes devastatingly sad letters she is startlingly alive on the page; a young woman ahead of her time - almost of our own time - living a complex and compelling drama here revealed for the first time by the woman at its very heart.

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

The Good Bohemian The Letters of Ida John

Author: Michael Holroyd, Rebecca John Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/05/2017

Captivatingly fresh and intimate letters from Augustus John's first wife, Ida, reveal the untold story of married life with one of the great artists of the last century. Twelve days before her twenty-fourth birthday, on the foggy morning of Saturday 12 January 1901, Ida Nettleship married Augustus John in a private ceremony at St Pancras Registry Office. The union went against the wishes of Ida's parents, who aspired to an altogether more conventional match for their eldest daughter. But Ida was in love with Augustus, a man of exceptional magnetism also studying at the Slade, and who would become one of the most famous artists of his time. Ida's letters - to friends, to family and to Augustus - reveal a young woman of passion, intensity and wit. They tell of the scandal she brought on the Nettleship family and its consquences; of hurt and betrayal as the marriage evolved into a three-way affair when Augustus fell in love with another woman, Dorelia; of Ida's remarkable acceptance of Dorelia, their pregnancies and shared domesticity; of self-doubt, happiness and despair; and of finding the strength and courage to compromise and navigate her unorthodox marriage. Ida is a naturally gifted writer, and it is with a candour, intimacy and social intelligence extraordinary for a woman of her period that her correspondence opens up her world. Ida John died aged just thirty of puerperal fever following the birth of her fifth son, but in these vivid, funny and sometimes devastatingly sad letters she is startlingly alive on the page; a young woman ahead of her time - almost of our own time - living a complex and compelling drama here revealed for the first time by the woman at its very heart.

Book Of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

Book Of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 01/08/2015

A BOOK OF SECRETS is a masterfully atmospheric treasure-trove of hidden lives, uncelebrated achievements and family mysteries. Acclaimed biographer Michael Holroyd peers into dusty corners to bring a company of unknown women into the light; Alice Keppel was the mistress of both the second Lord Grimthorpe and the Prince of Wales; Eve Fairfax was Lord Grimthorpe's abandoned fiancee and sometime muse of Auguste Rodin; and the novelist Violet Trefusis was the lover of Vita Sackville-West. Taking the reader on a journey of discovery from Ravello to Paris, from Kirkstall Grange in Yorkshire to Vita Sackville-West's home at Knole, A Book of Secrets lucidly gives voice to fragile human connections.

Mosaic

Mosaic

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 01/08/2015

'This is a book about surprises - at any rate, it has surprised me.' In 1999, Michael Holroyd published Basil Street Blues, in which one of our finest biographers turned his attentions to something more personal - his own family. But rather than the story being over, in fact it was just beginning. For as the letters from readers started to arrive, the author discovered an extraordinary narrative that his own memoir had only touched upon. Mosaic, then, is Michael Holroyd's piecing together of these remarkable stories: some of which are pleasant surprises, other more startling. There is the death of the fearsome headmaster at his school, who was murdered by one of the boys after he left: the discovery that his Swedish grandmother was the mistress of the French anarchist writer Jacques Prevert; and a letter from Margaret Forster about the beauty of his mother, that leads to his remarkable account of a decade-long affair. A love story, a detective story, a book of secrets, Mosaic is both a beautifully written journey into a forest of family trees, and a fascinating insight into the workings of genealogy.

Basil Street Blues: A Family Story

Basil Street Blues: A Family Story

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 01/08/2015

Michael Holroyd - the most famous biographer in Britain - turns his attention upon himself and his own family in Basil Street Blues (the title comes from the Basil Street Hotel where the author was conceived in the 1930s). Born into a family rich in eccentricity, Holroyd was largely brought up by his grandparents in Maidenhead because his exotic Swedish mother and reserved English father couldn't stand living together. (His grandparents' marriage provided no better model - his grandfather having had a four-year affair with a woman he met at a bus stop before coming back to his grandmother). Towards the end of Holroyd's parents' lives he persuaded them to write their own stories and using the results, plus his own memories and researches he has written this moving and self-revealing book.

Augustus John

Augustus John

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 01/07/2015

This 1997 revised and updated biography of the celebrated artist, using the mass of new material which has come to light since Holroyd's two-volume first edition in the mid 1970s, reveals the complete story of John and his circle, from one of our great biographers. John studied at the Slade with his sister Gwen before both of them went to Paris. He lived and worked at feverish speed and his drawings were astonishing for their fluid lyrical line, their vigour and spontaneity. His life became a complex tale of two cities, London and Paris, of two wives and many families. 'The age of Augustus John was dawning,' Virginia Woolf wrote of the year 1908, which saw many portraits of writers and artists and small glowing oil panels of figures in a landscape. His most striking work was done in the years before the First World War and when he died in 1961 his death was treated as a landmark signalling the end of a distant era.

Lytton Strachey

Lytton Strachey

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 01/07/2015

When Michael Holroyd's life of Strachey first appeared in the late 1960s, it was hailed as a landmark in contemporary biography. Drawing on new material, published and unpublished, Holroyd completely revised and rewrote his masterwork in 1995 to tell the full story of this complex man and his world as it could not be told while many of Strachey's friends and lovers were still alive. At the heart of the story is the poignant liaison between Strachey and the painter Dora Carrington. A panorama of the social, literary, political and sexual life of a generation, LYTTON STRACHEY reverberates in the mind like a great novel.

Bernard Shaw

Bernard Shaw

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: eBook Release Date: 17/02/2015

Playwright, wit, socialist, polemicist, vegetarian and charmer, Bernard Shaw was a controversial literary figure, the scourge of Victorian values and middle-class pretensions. This is Michael Holroyd's essential biography of George Bernard Shaw. With its pace and verve, its comedy, drama and politics, it portrays a provocative and paradoxical figure sympathetically and movingly.

On Wheels

On Wheels

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/11/2012

Michael Holroyd confronts an army of automobiles in this charming book. Weaving together memoir and historical anecdote, he traces his relationship with cars through a lifetime of biography. Learning to drive was no easy matter for Michael: the lessons required military precision when practising how to get in and out of his car correctly. His biographical subjects also had their difficulties: Bernard Shaw drove with reckless gusto when overtaking his eightieth year; Vita Sackville-West's car became a chamber for sudden romantic assignations and getaways; while Augustus John and his family careered through vulnerable villages as the poor vehicle, piled high with bohemian friends, stuttered and jerked along in first gear. Wry, thoughtful and very funny, On Wheels is an elegy to the glamour of the car. Subtle and perceptive, Michael Holroyd finds surprising ways to understand the past and challenge our view of the future.

Lytton Strachey The New Biography

Lytton Strachey The New Biography

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/12/2011

Lytton Strachey, genius, wit, iconoclast, biographer, pacifist, and homosexual campaigner, was at the nexus of the literary and artistic life of Bloomsbury. In the 1960s he was seen as a progenitor of the hippy cult. Now he appears as a far more subversive and challenging figure. He revolutionised the writing of biography and smuggled deviant sexual behaviour into our history in his reassessment of Elizabethan and Victorian times. For this re-telling of his story Holroyd has had access to published and unpublished material unavailable in the 1960s when his biography of Strachey first appeared. In many of Bloomsbury's three-cornered relationships, he had only two sides of the triangle. Now he has all three, and in a new social and political climate can tell the full story of this extraordinary world with candour, sympathy and sexual explicitness. He has cut 100, 000 words, revised much of the text and added a wealth of new material, about Strachey himself, about Maynard Keynes, Duncan Grant, Rupert Brooke and most vividly about the tragic life of Strachey's companion Dora Carrington.

Augustus John The New Biography

Augustus John The New Biography

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/12/2011

This 1997 revised and updated biography of the celebrated artist, using the mass of new material which has come to light since Holroyd's two-volume first edition in the mid 1970s, reveals the complete story of John and his circle, from one of our great biographers. John studied at the Slade with his sister Gwen before both of them went to Paris. He lived and worked at feverish speed and his drawings were astonishing for their fluid lyrical line, their vigor and spontaneity. His life became a complex tale of two cities, London and Paris, of two wives and many families. 'The age of Augustus John was dawning,' Virginia Woolf wrote of the year 1908, which saw many portraits of writers and artists and small glowing oil panels of figures in a landscape. His most striking work was done in the years before the First World War and when he died in 1961 his death was treated as a landmark signaling the end of a distant era.

Bernard Shaw

Bernard Shaw

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/12/2011

Michael Holroyd has done a masterly job of editing his definitive multi-volume biography of Bernard Shaw and presenting a lively and succinct one-volume Life. Here is the essential GBS for the general reader, with its pace and verve, its comedy, drama and politics, it shows a provocative and paradoxical figure sympathetically and movingly portrayed.

A Book of Secrets Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

A Book of Secrets Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/11/2011

A Book of Secrets is a masterfully atmospheric treasure-trove of hidden lives, uncelebrated achievements and family mysteries. Acclaimed biographer Michael Holroyd peers into dusty corners to bring a company of unknown women into the light; Alice Keppel was the mistress of both the second Lord Grimthorpe and the Prince of Wales; Eve Fairfax was Lord Grimthorpe's abandoned fiancee and sometime muse of Auguste Rodin; and the novelist Violet Trefusis was the lover of Vita Sackville-West. Taking the reader on a journey of discovery from Ravello to Paris, from Kirkstall Grange in Yorkshire to Vita Sackville-West's home at Knole, A Book of Secrets lucidly gives voice to fragile human connections.

A Strange Eventful History The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families

A Strange Eventful History The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2009

Henry Irving - a merchant's clerk who became the saviour of British theatre - and Ellen Terry, who made her first theatre appearance as soon as she could walk, were the king and queen of the Victorian stage. Creatively interdependent, they founded a power-house of arts at the Lyceum Theatre, with Bram Stoker as business manager, where they recast Shakespeare's plays on an epic scale and took the company on lucrative and exhilarating international tours. In his masterly new biography, award-winning writer Michael Holroyd explores their public and private lives, showing how their artistic legacy and their brilliant but troubled children came to influence the modern world.

Hugh Kingsmill

Hugh Kingsmill

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/07/2009

Hugh Kingsmill should be better known. Here is a striking passage from Richard Ingrams' God's Apology. 'In Malcolm's (Muggeridge) study there was a row of books more thumbed and battered than the rest and a rather blurred photograph showing a man striding through a park, his arm swung forward, his air confident and jaunty. Malcolm called him Hughie. In his conversation he referred to him constantly, with great affection and in a manner quite unlike his usual rather disparaging one when talking of his friends. He seemed to be almost the only man in Malcolm's life of whom he had not a harsh word to say.' Hugh Kingsmill was a novelist, a biographer of note and a talker of outstanding verve and brilliance. He died in 1949 and to mark the sixtieth anniversary Faber Finds is reissuing Michael Holroyd's biography. It was Michael Holroyd's first book, originally published in 1964. 'A remarkably good book .' John Davenport, The Observer 'It is a positive pleasure to recommend Michael Holroyd's splendid biography of this exceptional personality.' Kay Dick, BBC 'The World of Books' 'A well-written study of a laughing, witty, clearly lovable man behind whose wreathed smiles despair lurked.' Anthony Hern, Evening Standard 'An admirably balanced and complete portrait, the criticism fair, the likeness true . . . I congratulate the author on a remarkably good book.' Hesketh Pearson, in a letter ' . . . impressively authoritative . . . entrancing and singularly profound.' William Gerhardie, The Spectator

Works On Paper The Craft of Biography and Autobiography

Works On Paper The Craft of Biography and Autobiography

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/11/2003

Michael Holroyd opens with a startling attack on biography, which is answered by two essays on the ethics and values of non-fiction writing. The book then examines the work of several contemporary biographers, the place of biography in fiction and of fiction in biography, and the revelations of some extravagant autobiographers, from Osbert Sitwell to Quentin Crisp - to which he adds some adventures of his own, in particular an important and unpublished piece THE MAKING OF GBS, a riveting story of deadly literary warfare. The book ends with a series of satires, celebrations, apologias and polemics which throw light not only on Michael Holroyd's progress as a biographer, but also his record as an embattled campaigner in the field of present-day literary politics.

Bernard Shaw

Bernard Shaw

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/1998

Holroyd has done a masterly job of cutting down his huge biography to a lively and manageable one-volume life - the definitive Shaw for the general reader and the student. It has verve and pace, the light and shade of his life are emphasized, digressions cut, and Shaw comes over just as much larger than life as he always was, just as contrary, and even more sympathetically and movingly portrayed. This is a dazzling portrait of the man and his age.

Augustus John:The New Biography

Augustus John:The New Biography

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/1997

Drawing on the mass of new material which has come to light since the first edition was published in 1974, this revised biography presents a detailed account of the passionate and unruly life of the bohemian British painter, Augustus John, and his circle.

Lytton Strachey:The New Biography

Lytton Strachey:The New Biography

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/08/1995

When Michael Holroyd's life of Strachey first appeared in 1967, it was hailed as a landmark in contemporary biography. Drawing now on new material, published and unpublished, Holroyd has completely revised and rewritten his masterwork to tell the full story of this complex man and his world as it could not be told while many of Strachey's friends and lovers were still alive. And at the heart of the story is the poignant liasion between Strachey and the painter Dora Carrington. A panorama of the social, literary, political and sexual life of a generation, LYTTON STRACHEY reverberates in the mind like a great novel.

Bernard Shaw:Volume IV and V The Shaw Companion

Bernard Shaw:Volume IV and V The Shaw Companion

Author: Michael Holroyd Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/12/1992

Provides documentation, containing over 10,000 researched source notes, as well as the cumulative index to the first three volumes of this work on George Bernard Shaw. This text also includes Holroyd's epilogue, Volume 4, The Last Laugh 1950-1991.

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