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Simon Garfield - Author

About the Author

Simon Garfield was our Guest Editor in October 2012 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing.

 

Simon Garfield is the author of fourteen acclaimed books of non-fiction including On the Map, Just My Type and The Wrestling. His edited diaries from the Mass Observation Archive, Our Hidden Lives, We Are At War and Private Battles, were bestsellers, and his study of AIDS in Britain, The End of Innocence, won the Somerset Maugham prize. He lives in London and St Ives, Cornwall.

 

Author photo © Sarah Lee

Featured books by Simon Garfield

Other books by Simon Garfield

In Miniature How Small Things Illuminate The World

In Miniature How Small Things Illuminate The World

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/10/2018

A delightful, entertaining and illuminating investigation into our peculiar fascination with making things small, and what small things tell us about the world at large. Simon Garfield reveals the secret histories of tiny Eiffel Towers, the truth about the flea circus, a doll's house made for a Queen, eerie tableaux of crime scenes, miniature food, model villages and railways, and more. Bringing together history, psychology, art and obsession, Garfield explores what fuels the strong appeal of miniature objects, and how controlling a tiny scaled-down world can give new perspectives, restore our sense of order in uncertain times, and, in unexpected ways, let us see our world in a whole new light. In Miniature takes a big look at small things and teaches us that there is greatness in the diminutive.

Mauve How one man invented a colour that changed the world

Mauve How one man invented a colour that changed the world

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2018

1856. Eighteen-year-old chemistry student William Perkin's experiment has gone horribly wrong. But the deep brown sludge his botched project has produced has an unexpected power: the power to dye everything it touches a brilliant purple. Perkin has discovered mauve, the world's first synthetic dye, bridging a gap between pure chemistry and industry which will change the world forever. From the fetching ribbons tying back the hair of every fashionable head in London to the laboratories in which scientists developed modern vaccines against cancer and malaria, Simon Garfield tells the story of how the colour purple became a sensation.

Timekeepers How the World Became Obsessed With Time

Timekeepers How the World Became Obsessed With Time

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/07/2017

Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. The Beatles learn to be brilliant in an hour and a half. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A US Senator begins a speech that will last for 25 hours. The horrors of war are frozen at the click of a camera. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister lives out the same four minutes over a lifetime. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks. Timekeepers is a book about our obsession with time and our desire to measure it, control it, sell it, film it, perform it, immortalise it and make it meaningful. It has two simple intentions: to tell some illuminating stories, and to ask whether we have all gone completely nuts.

Our Hidden Lives

Our Hidden Lives

Author: Simon Garfield Format: eBook Release Date: 06/10/2016

In 1936 anthropologist Tom Harrison, poet and journalist Charles Madge and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings set up the Mass Observation Project. The idea was simple: ordinary people would record, in diary form, the events of their everyday lives. An estimated one million pages eventually found their way to the archive - and it soon became clear this was more than anyone could digest. Today, the diaries are stored at the University of Sussex, where remarkably most remain unread. In Our Hidden Lives, Simon Garfield has skilfully woven a tapestry of diary entries in the rarely discussed but pivotal period of 1945 to 1948. The result is a moving, intriguing, funny, at times heartbreaking book -unashamedly populist in the spirit of Forgotten Voices or indeed Margaret Forster's Diary of an Ordinary Woman.'I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories- Better than any novel.' Margaret Forster 'A lovely book. It will appeal to- anyone who appreciates the richness and diversity of human experience.' Tony Benn'Utterly engrossing, better than any kind of reality TV.' Gavin Esler'Funny, vivid, touching, angry, thoughtful - every page is a delight. This is definitely no. 1 on my present list to give to everyone in the coming year.' Jenny Uglow, author of The Lunar Men

To the Letter A Curious History of Correspondence

To the Letter A Curious History of Correspondence

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/07/2014

Every letter contains a miniature story, and here are some of the greatest. From Oscar Wilde's unconventional method of using the mail to cycling enthusiast Reginald Bray's quest to post himself, Simon Garfield uncovers a host of stories that capture the enchantment of this irreplaceable art (with a supporting cast including Pliny the Younger, Ted Hughes, Virginia Woolf, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, David Foster Wallace and the Little Red-Haired Girl). There is also a brief history of the letter-writing guide, with instructions on when and when not to send fish as a wedding gift. And as these accounts unfold, so does the tale of a compelling wartime correspondence that shows how the simplest of letters can change the course of a life.

Exposure The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke

Exposure The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/05/2009

Bob Carlos Clarke, one of the most controversial photographers of his generation, had a reputation for brilliant, sexually-infused shots. He had entertained Princess Diana at his studio and was a mainstay of Chelsea parties for twenty years. He photographed major rock stars and models, and he was universally recognised as an unrivalled photographic printer. Students of photography packed his lectures and queued for hours for his autograph, and many experts believe him to be the among the greatest unsung artistic talents of his times. But Carlos Clarke was also his own worst enemy, a unruly genius beset by self-doubt and prone to bad decisions. When he killed himself in 2006, at the age of 55, many people saw it as an inevitable ending to an inspired but troubled career. Simon Garfield stumbled on this world of photography, rock music, moneyed society and erotica while working on another project, and soon it enveloped him. The more people he spoke to, the greater his curiosity grew. Who was this unpredictable man? Was he really the 'dark genius' those in the know saw him as? And, most importantly - what, or who, killed Bob Carlos Clarke? Passionate and compelling, Exposure is a story of love, art, sex and corrosive despair. Above all, it is a unique window into the soul of a man burdened with obsession.

The Error World

The Error World

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/01/2009

When he was very young, Simon Garfield lusted after rare stamps but could not afford them. When he was older, the passion reignited with almost ruinous results. The Error World is an examination of obsession and desire, and the search for fulfilment. But it is also a story of wooden legs, pornography in the Finchley Road, Pele's World Cup shirt, the man who guards stamps for the Queen, and a woman who is terrified of the Post Office Tower.

The Error World

The Error World

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2008

When he was very young, Simon Garfield lusted after rare stamps but could not afford them. When he was older, the passion reignited with almost ruinous results. The Error World is an examination of obsession and desire, and the search for fulfilment. But it is also a story of wooden legs, pornography in the Finchley Road, Pele's World Cup shirt, the man who guards stamps for the Queen, and a woman who is terrified of the Post Office Tower.

The Wrestling

The Wrestling

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/11/2007

The classic account of the men and women who used to fight each other for pride and money. Simon Garfield brings them to life in one last glorious bout of jealousy, myth, revenge, passion and deep devotion. When British wrestling was dropped from the ITV schedules in the mid-80s it left the giants of the ring - Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki - bereft. This is the true story of the circuit, the big names and their rivalries, told with humour, warmth and affection. This edition features a new afterword by the author.

Private Battles Our Intimate Diaries: How the War Almost Defeated Us

Private Battles Our Intimate Diaries: How the War Almost Defeated Us

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/09/2007

In Private Battles, award-winning writer Simon Garfield has skilfully interwoven the diaries of four ordinary people as they struggle to cope with the day-to-day reality of life during the Second World War. Their voices combine to create one of the most compelling and refreshing takes on the period ever published. Meet Maggie Joy Blunt, a perceptive but frustrated young writer living alone near Slough. Pam Ashford, a shipping clerk in Glasgow who writes of office life as if it were an episode of The Archers. Edward Stebbing, a 20-year-old discharged soldier living with a stern landlady in Essex. And Ernest Van Someren, a research chemist in Hertfordshire, father of two children and proposer of several unique scientific ways to beat the Nazis. Perhaps here, for the first time, is the true story of how the ordinary people of Britain won the Second World War. And of how we almost didn't.

The End of Innocence Britain in the Time of AIDS

The End of Innocence Britain in the Time of AIDS

Author: Simon Garfield Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/11/1995

Published to coincide with World AIDS Day, this book looks at a decade of AIDS in Britain. As well as the 8000 who have died, some 20,000 are infected with HIV, and many more carry the virus unknowingly. With no cure or even a vaccine in sight, and growing evidence of complacency, AIDS is still one of the greatest post-war challenges the UK faces. This book covers every significant development of the disease, from the early ignorance and panic to the emergence of AIDS as a good cause taken up by Sir Ian McKellen, George Michael and the Princess of Wales. The author uses information supplied by doctors, scientists, government ministers and civil servants, as well as interviews with leading entertainment figures such as Stephen Fry, Elton John and the late Derek Jarman.

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