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Claire Tomalin was literary editor of the New Statesman then the Sunday Times before leaving to become a full-time writer. Her first book, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, won the Whitbread First Book Award, and she has since written a number of highly acclaimed and bestselling biographies. The Invisible Woman, a definitive account of Dickens' relationship with the actress Ellen Ternan, won three major literary awards, and Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self was Whitbread Book of the Year in 2002. Claire Tomalin is married to the writer Michael Frayn.
A captivatingly intimate and moving memoir by one of Britain’s finest biographers. While Tomalin remarks in her Introductory Note that “writing about myself has not been easy”, the resulting book is an incredibly smooth reading experience, and deftly weaves deeply honest personal details with astute insights into Britain’s shifting social, cultural and literary landscapes. Tomalin was born in London to a Liverpudlian music teacher and a man from the “mountains of Savoy”. While her mother’s love was unconditional, Tomalin was acutely aware of her father’s “unkindness”. Though their separation restored them both to sanity after a tumultuous marriage, the ensuing battle for custody was brutal. After this unsettling experience of childhood, Tomalin went up to Newham College, Cambridge, with great excitement. There she discovered “tremendous intellectual stimulus – an awakening, an opening of doors, fresh ways of looking at writing”, and this is clear from her account of these thrilling formative years. It was here she met her husband, the journalist Nick Tomalin, who tragically died while reporting as a young war correspondent, leaving the author to raise their four children alone, while also forging her own career as a literary editor. Further tragedy follows, but also joy and resurgence, as the author recounts her richly fascinating life with boundless emotional and intellectual lucidity. ~ Joanne Owen
Thomas Hardy is the acclaimed biography by bestselling author Claire Tomalin 'An extraordinary story, beautifully told. Tomalin is the most empathetic of biographers' Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday Paradox ruled Thomas Hardy's life. His birth was almost his death; he became one of the great Victorian novelists and reinvented himself as one of the twentieth-century's greatest poets; he was an unhappy husband and a desolate widower; he wrote bitter attacks on the English class system yet prized the friendship of aristocrats. In the hands of Whitbread Award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, author of the bestselling books Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, Thomas Hardy the novelist, poet, neglectful husband and mourning lover all come vividly alive. 'Another triumph for a biographer who goes from strength to strength' Melvyn Bragg, Guardian, Books of the Year 'Tomalin provides an object lesson in how to write a life' Economist 'A moving story, and Tomalin tells it vividly, with as great a fund of sympathy and sense, as can be imagined' Daily Telegraph 'Skilful and absorbing, admirable. The most compelling of life stories' Daily Telegraph 'Hardy emerges as a man full of spirit and gaiety' Sunday Times Claire Tomalin is the award-winning author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs Jordan's Profession; Jane Austen: A Life; Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self; Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and, most recently, Charles Dickens: A Life. A former literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, she is married to the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 23 February 2012. Winner of the Galaxy Biography of the Year Award 2011. Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2011. Sue Baker's view... You can’t have failed to notice 2012 is a big year for Dickens – and for all those who love his work. I do hope, though that all the banging of the drum will interest new readers and what better place to start than with Claire Tomalin’s powerful biography. Dickens was no saint and she manages to steer a course between condemnation and overt praise, his faults not neglected but we never lose sight of the driven genius and we do end up loving him warts and all. I much enjoyed her intermingling of the novels into the biography, excellent short critics of the majority of his work making this reader, at least, eager to get back to reading his work. Claire Tomalin also creates a vivid word portrait of Victorian England and the London, whose image we still see through Dickens’s eyes. I’ve read so many biographies of Dickens but this has to be one of the best. Like for Like ReadingThe Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, Hard Times, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Tale of Two Cities) Boxed SetCharles Dickens’ England, presented by Derek Jacobi DVD x 2 Guerilla Films 5th October 2009 (see Amazon for details)
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