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D. J. Taylor is a writer and critic. He is the author of seven novels: Great Eastern Land (1986); Real Life (1992); English Settlement (1996); Trespass (1998), The Comedy Man (2001), Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006) and Ask Alice (2009). His books of non-fiction include After the War: The Novel and England Since 1945 (1993); A Vain Conceit: British fiction in the 1980s (1989), and Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940. He is also well known for his biographies: Thackeray (1999); and Orwell: The Life, which won the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award.
Author photo © Katie Vandyck
Fifteen short stories, his first collection since 1997 although only five are new. The other ten have been either broadcast and then printed or published in magazines. He is a very fine writer teasing out the idiosyncrasies of his characters in ordinary circumstances, all is neat and tidy and as it should be, beautifully described and then suddenly there is an underlying menace. If you are a short story fan these are glorious. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'These stories are a slight departure for Galley Beggar Press. We generally champion less well know writers and - as I’m guessing you already know - DJ Taylor has already made his reputation. It’s also a departure because it's our first collection of short stories. Part of the reason we’ve published it is because we believe that short stories deserve more coverage. This is a book that proves how artistically important and rewarding the form can be. But the main reason we’ve put it out there is simply that it’s bloody good. We love these stories. They’re moving and resonant and quietly haunting - as well as often very funny. Hopefully people will be enjoying them for many years to come.' Sam Jordison, Galley Beggar Press
A witty compilation of entertaining literary spoofs mocking the great and good of British writing. This alternative history of English literature is a perfect Christmas gift for any book lover.
A Times Book of the Year 2019 'You should not deny yourself the pleasure of reading it' Sunday Times 'A remarkable work and an important addition to the extraordinary wartime history of literary London' Literary Review Who were the Lost Girls? At least a dozen or so young women at large in Blitz-era London have a claim to this title. But Lost Girls concentrates on just four: Lys Lubbock, Sonia Brownell, Barbara Skelton and Janetta Parlade. Chic, glamorous and bohemian, as likely to be found living in a rat-haunted maisonette as dining at the Ritz, they cut a swathe through English literary and artistic life in the 1940s. Three of them had affairs with Lucian Freud. One of them married George Orwell. Another became the mistress of the King of Egypt and was flogged by him on the steps of the Royal Palace. And all of them were associated with the decade's most celebrated literary magazine, Horizon, and its charismatic editor Cyril Connolly. Lys, Sonia, Barbara and Janetta had very different - and sometimes explosive personalities - but taken together they form a distinctive part of the war-time demographic: bright, beautiful, independent-minded women with tough upbringings behind them determined to make the most of their lives in a highly uncertain environment. Theirs was the world of the buzz bomb, the cocktail party behind blackout curtains, the severed hand seen on the pavement in the Bloomsbury square, the rustle of a telegram falling through the letter-box, the hasty farewell to another half who might not ever come back, a world of living for the moment and snatching at pleasure before it disappeared. But if their trail runs through vast acreages of war-time cultural life then, in the end, it returns to Connolly and his amorous web-spinning, in which all four of them regularly featured and which sometimes complicated their emotional lives to the point of meltdown. The Lost Girls were the product of a highly artificial environment. After it came to an end - on Horizon's closure in 1950 - their careers wound on. Later they would have affairs with dukes, feature in celebrity divorce cases and make appearances in the novels of George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell and Nancy Mitford. The last of them - Janetta - died as recently as three months ago. However tiny their number, they are a genuine missing link between the first wave of newly-liberated young women of the post-Great War era and the Dionysiac free-for-all of the 1960s. Hectic, passionate and at times unexpectedly poignant, this is their story.
From the author of the definitive biography of George Orwell, a captivating account of the origin and enduring power of his landmark dystopian novel Since its publication nearly 70 years ago, George Orwell's 1984 has been regarded as one of the most influential novels of the modern age. Politicians have testified to its influence on their intellectual identities, rock musicians have made records about it, TV viewers watch a reality show named for it, and a White House spokesperson tells of alternative facts. The world we live in is often described as an Orwellian one, awash in inescapable surveillance and invasions of privacy. On 1984 dives deep into Orwell's life to chart his earlier writings and key moments in his youth, such as his years at a boarding school, whose strict and charismatic headmaster shaped the idea of Big Brother. Taylor tells the story of the writing of the book, taking readers to the Scottish island of Jura, where Orwell, newly famous thanks to Animal Farm but coping with personal tragedy and rapidly declining health, struggled to finish 1984. Published during the cold war-a term Orwell coined-Taylor elucidates the environmental influences on the book. Then he examines 1984's post-publication life, including its role as a tool to understand our language, politics, and government. In a current climate where truth, surveillance, censorship, and critical thinking are contentious, Orwell's work is necessary. Written with resonant and reflective analysis, On 1984 is both brilliant and remarkably timely
'Rock and Roll is Life' is the new novel from the country's leading man of letters, D. J. Taylor. You may remember the Helium Kids. Back in their late '60s and early '70s heyday they appeared on Top of the Tops on 27 separate occasions, released five Billboard-certified platinum albums, played sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and were nearly, but not quite, as big as the Beatles and the Stones. Three decades later, in the big house on the outskirts of Norwich, Nick Du Pont is looking back on the rollercoaster years he spent as their publicist in a world of licensed excess and lurking tragedy. What follows is not only the story of a rock band at a formative time in musical history, when America was opening up to English music and huge amounts of money and self-gratification were there for the taking. For the tale is also Nick's - the life and times of a war-baby born in a Norwich council house, the son of an absconding GI, whose career is a search for some of the advantages that his birth denied him. It is at once a worm's eye of British pop music's golden age and a bittersweet personal journey, with cameo appearances from everyone from Elvis and Her Majesty the Queen Mother to Andy Warhol. 'Rock and Roll is Life' is a vastly entertaining, picaresque and touching novel inspired by the excess and trajectories of the great '60sand '70s supergroups, and of the tales brought back from the front line by a very special breed of Englishmen who made it big in the States as the alchemists and enablers, as well as the old making way for the new in the era of the baby boomers. At its heart is one man's adventure, and the poignancy of the special relationships that dominate his life.
'Hugely enjoyable' AN Wilson, Sunday Times 'Thoughtful, entertaining and enjoyable' Michael Gove, Book of the Week, The Times Inspired by William Makepeace Thackeray, the first great analyst of snobbery, and his trail-blazing The Book of Snobs (1848), D. J. Taylor brings us a field guide to the modern snob. Short of calling someone a racist or a paedophile, one of the worst charges you can lay at anybody's door in the early twenty-first century is to suggest that they happen to be a snob. But what constitutes snobbishness? Who are the snobs and where are they to be found? Are you a snob? Am I? What are the distinguishing marks? Snobbery is, in fact, one of the keys to contemporary British life, as vital to the backstreet family on benefits as the proprietor of the grandest stately home, and an essential element of their view of who of they are and what the world might be thought to owe them. The New Book of Snobs will take a marked interest in language, the vocabulary of snobbery - as exemplified in the 'U' and 'Non U' controversy of the 1950s - being a particular field in which the phenomenon consistently makes its presence felt, and alternate social analysis with sketches of groups and individuals on the Thackerayan principle. Prepare to meet the Political Snob, the City Snob, the Technology Snob, the Property Snob, the Rural Snob, the Literary Snob, the Working-class Snob, the Sporting Snob, the Popular Cultural Snob and the Food Snob.
Summer 1931 in seedy Bayswater and James Ross is on his uppers. An aspiring writer whose stories nobody will buy ('It's the slump'), with a landlady harassing him for unpaid rent and occasional sleepless nights spent in the waiting room at King's Cross Station, he is reduced to selling carpet-cleaning lotion door-to-door. His prospects brighten when he meets the glamorous Suzi ('the red hair and the tight jumper weren't a false card: she really was a looker and no mistake'), but their relationship turns out to be a source of increasing bafflement. Who is her boss, the mysterious Mr Rasmussen - whose face bears a startling resemblance to one of the portraits in Police News - and why he so interested in the abandoned premises above the Cornhill jeweller's shop? Worse, mysterious Mr Haversham from West End Central is starting to take an interest in his affairs. With a brief to keep an eye on Schmiegelow, James finds himself staying incognito at a grand Society weekend at a country house in Sussex, where the truth - about Suzi and her devious employer - comes as an unexpected shock. Set against a backdrop of the 1931 financial crisis and the abandonment of the Gold Standard, acted out in shabby bed-sitters and Lyons tea-shops, At the Chime of a City Clock is an authentic slice of Thirties comedy-noir. Praise for Kept: A Victorian Mystery: 'Very entertaining and well done, with a sharp appreciation for the details' The Times 'An ingenious tale of madness, murder and deception.' The Guardian 'A stylish page-turner ... all done with humour and cunning.' Sunday Telegraph