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Paula Byrne - Author

About the Author

Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead and has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, where she is a Research Fellow in English Literature. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita, was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick and Mad World was a Sunday Times bestseller. She lives in Oxford with her two children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate who is Provost of Worcester College.

Featured books by Paula Byrne

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/05/2017

Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice,Mansfield Park and Emma were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy. Her admiration for drama's dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully on screen in the last twenty years - and these versions are at the centre of her continuing fame, culminating in her celebration on GBP10 note. Austen expert and author of The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen's novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A. Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, and the phenomenally brilliant and successful Clueless, Jane's World presents an Austen not of prim manners and genteel calm, but filled with wild comedy and outrageous behaviour.

Kick The True Story of JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Kick The True Story of JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/05/2016

Kick was Joe Kennedy's favourite child and Jack's favourite sister. Spirited, vivacious and quick-witted, her charm was legendary and with her jokes, effervescence and ease of manner she became a star amongst friends, family and the press. When Kick sailed to Britain in 1938 after her father had been appointed US Ambassador in London she was presented at court as a debutante, attended all the best parties and was a house-guest at the finest country estates. She was described as 'the best thing America ever sent us'. Kick was not conventionally beautiful, but men swarmed around her. As she mingled with aristocrats, politicians, writers and artists, everyone was drawn to her refreshing lack of stuffiness. To her the Duke of Marlborough was 'DukieWookie' and she taught her aristocratic friends to say in an American drawl, 'Oh, Kid what's the sto-o-ory'. Even the anti-American Evelyn Waugh was bewitched. As the clouds of war gathered, Kick met a shy, tall, handsome man called Billy and against the wishes of her powerful family, she married him. He was William Cavendish, heir to the Duke of Devonshire and the Chatsworth estate, the most eligible bachelor in England. But their days of married bliss proved short. War brought tragedy and loss. In this book, which is as lively and vivacious as its subject, best-selling author Paula Byrne uses recently released documents to tell for the first time this cinematic story of the meeting of American and British aristocracy - the Kennedys, the Devonshires, their friends such as the Churchills, Astors and Mitfords, the social whirl of pre-War life, Kick's work for the Red Cross and as a journalist - and the religious tension that arose from her marriage to Billy. She kicked against family, faith and country. She was a rebel to the end - which came all too soon, when she was just 28. This wonderful book restores her story at last with all its energy, wit and tragedy.

Belle The True Story Behind the Movie

Belle The True Story Behind the Movie

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/05/2014

The inspiration behind the powerful new film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, this is the story of Dido Belle, whose adoption by an aristocratic family challenged the conventions of 18th century England.     In one of the most famous portraits in the world, a pretty girl is seated through the grounds of Kenwood House, a vision of aristocratic refinement. But the eye is drawn to the beautiful woman on her right. Pointing at her own cheek, she playfully acknowledges her remarkable position in eighteenth-century society. For Dido Belle was the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman, adopted by the Earl of Mansfield. As Lord Chief Justice of England he would preside over the notorious Zong case - the drowning of 142 slaves by an unscrupulous shipping company. His ruling provided the legal underpinning to the abolition of slavery in Britain. From the privileged yet unequal lives of Dido and her cousin Elizabeth, to the horrific treatment of African slaves, Paula Byrne - the bestselling author of The Real Jane Austen - vividly narrates the story of a family that defied convention, the legal trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and the woman who challenged notions of race at the highest rank.

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2014

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this paperback of the landmark biography, best-selling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen's life and work - a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more - to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear aunt Jane' allows. Byrne's lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen's life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/01/2013

In this new biography, best-selling author Paula Byrne (bestselling author of Perdita, Mad World) explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists she admired, her residence in Bath, her love of the seaside, her travels around England and her long struggle to become a published author. Byrne uses a highly innovative technique whereby each chapter begins from an object that conjures up a key moment or theme in Austen's life and work-a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a laptop writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more. The woman who emerges in this biography is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear Aunt Jane' would allow. Published to coincide with the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, this lively and scholarly biography brings Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Other books by Paula Byrne

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/07/2018

A radical look at Jane Austen as you've never seen her - as a lover of farce, comic theatre and juvenilia. The Genius of Jane Austen celebrates Britain's favourite novelist 200 years after her death and explores why her books make such awesome movies, time after time. Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy. Her admiration for drama's dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully on screen in the last twenty years - and these versions are at the centre of her continuing fame, culminating in her celebration on GBP10 note. Austen expert and author of The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen's novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A. Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, and the phenomenally brilliant and successful Clueless, The Genius of Jane Austen presents an Austen not of prim manners and genteel calm, but filled with wild comedy and outrageous behaviour.

Look to Your Wife

Look to Your Wife

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 05/04/2018

A debut novel by a best-selling nonfiction author, this is a witty, wholly entrancing story of the pleasures, pains and obsessions of contemporary life. Lisa Blaize - teacher and would-be fashion writer, mother and second wife - feels out of place when her high-flying husband becomes the headmaster of a school in a country town. Isolated and far from her metropolitan upbringing, she turns to the one place where she learns she can be uninhibited. But 'Twitter may be my undoing', Lisa discovers as her onetime private life becomes all too public. Soon she is dealing with an online stalker and her husband's reputation is put at risk - but will she be able to give up her addiction?From the gossip of the classroom to our obsession with instant communication, Look to Your Wife is witty and brilliantly observed, revealing the pleasures and pains of contemporary life.

Look to Your Wife

Look to Your Wife

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/03/2018

A debut novel by a bestselling non-fiction author, this is a witty, wholly entrancing story of the pleasures, pains and obsessions of contemporary life. Lisa Blaize - teacher, and would-be fashion writer, mother and second wife - feels out of place when her high-flying husband becomes the headmaster of a school in a country town. Isolated and far from her metropolitan upbringing, she turns to the one place where she learns she can be uninhibited. But `Twitter may be my undoing', Lisa discovers as her one-time private life becomes all too public. Soon she is dealing with an online stalker and her husband's reputation is put at risk, but will she be able to give up her addiction? From the gossip of the classroom to our obsession with instant communication, Look To Your Wife is witty and brilliantly observed, revealing the pleasures and pains of contemporary life.

Genius of Jane Austen

Genius of Jane Austen

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 18/05/2017

A radical look at Jane Austen As you've never seen her - as a lover of farce, comic theatre and juvenilia. The Genius of Jane Austen celebrates Britain's favourite novelist 200 years after her death and explores why her books make such awesome movies, time after time. Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy. Her admiration for drama's dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully on screen in the last twenty years - and these versions are at the centre of her continuing fame, culminating in her celebration on 10 note. Austen expert and author of The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen's novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A. Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, and the phenomenally brilliant and successful Clueless, The Genius of Jane Austen presents an Austen not of prim manners and genteel calm, but filled with wild comedy and outrageous behaviour.

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

The Genius of Jane Austen Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/05/2017

Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice,Mansfield Park and Emma were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy. Her admiration for drama's dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully on screen in the last twenty years - and these versions are at the centre of her continuing fame, culminating in her celebration on GBP10 note. Austen expert and author of The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen's novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A. Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, and the phenomenally brilliant and successful Clueless, Jane's World presents an Austen not of prim manners and genteel calm, but filled with wild comedy and outrageous behaviour.

Kick The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Kick The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/03/2017

The remarkable life of the vivacious, clever - and forgotten - Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history. The favourite child of Joe Kennedy and favourite sister of Jack, Kick Kennedy was spirited, vivacious and legendary for her charm. When the Kenndys sailed to Britain in 1938 she was presented as a debutante amid the pre-war social whirl of the British aristocracy. Here she met a shy, tall, handsome man called Billy, and, rebelling against family, faith, and country, soon married him. He was William Cavendish, heir to Chatsworth and the Duke of Devonshire, the most eligible bachelor in England. But their days of married bliss proved short, as war would bring tragedy and loss. Uncovering her spectacular life in full for the first time, Paula Byrne depicts a remarkable woman who bewitched the Churchills, Astors and Mitfords, and yet was almost erased from Kennedy family history.

Kick The True Story of JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Kick The True Story of JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/05/2016

Kick was Joe Kennedy's favourite child and Jack's favourite sister. Spirited, vivacious and quick-witted, her charm was legendary and with her jokes, effervescence and ease of manner she became a star amongst friends, family and the press. When Kick sailed to Britain in 1938 after her father had been appointed US Ambassador in London she was presented at court as a debutante, attended all the best parties and was a house-guest at the finest country estates. She was described as 'the best thing America ever sent us'. Kick was not conventionally beautiful, but men swarmed around her. As she mingled with aristocrats, politicians, writers and artists, everyone was drawn to her refreshing lack of stuffiness. To her the Duke of Marlborough was 'DukieWookie' and she taught her aristocratic friends to say in an American drawl, 'Oh, Kid what's the sto-o-ory'. Even the anti-American Evelyn Waugh was bewitched. As the clouds of war gathered, Kick met a shy, tall, handsome man called Billy and against the wishes of her powerful family, she married him. He was William Cavendish, heir to the Duke of Devonshire and the Chatsworth estate, the most eligible bachelor in England. But their days of married bliss proved short. War brought tragedy and loss. In this book, which is as lively and vivacious as its subject, best-selling author Paula Byrne uses recently released documents to tell for the first time this cinematic story of the meeting of American and British aristocracy - the Kennedys, the Devonshires, their friends such as the Churchills, Astors and Mitfords, the social whirl of pre-War life, Kick's work for the Red Cross and as a journalist - and the religious tension that arose from her marriage to Billy. She kicked against family, faith and country. She was a rebel to the end - which came all too soon, when she was just 28. This wonderful book restores her story at last with all its energy, wit and tragedy.

Kick

Kick

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 19/05/2016

The remarkable life of the vivacious, clever - and forgotten - Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history. When Kathleen Kennedy sailed to England after her father had been appointed Ambassador to Great Britain in 1938, her wit, aloofness and sexual charisma at once became the source of endless fascination for the British public. 'Kick' became the star of the family and the press loved her, London magazine Queen headlining her as 'America's Most Important Debutante'. Her meeting at a summer garden party with a shy, tall, handsome man called 'Billy' who it transpired was the heir to the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth, the most eligible bachelor in England, became first an intrigue and soon a scandal for the Kennedys. She was Catholic and he an Anglican. But Kick had fallen in love with Billy, and with England. In 1944, they were married. In September Billy was killed in combat with the British Army. Widowed as Lady Hartington, Kathleen Kennedy remained in England after the loss of her husband until her own tragic death. In 'Kick', Paul Byrne tells the story of a woman who was more than simply the second sister of Jack, Bobby and Ted: a feisty and unique product of two countries, she was the force of personality the Kennedys rarely mentioned, a life long hidden from the legendary family history.

Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle

Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 08/05/2014

The inspiration behind the powerful new film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, this is the story of Dido Belle, whose adoption by an aristocratic family challenged the conventions of 18th century England.In one of the most famous portraits in the world, a pretty girl walks through the grounds of Kenwood House, a vision of aristocratic refinement. But the eye is drawn to the beautiful woman on her right. Pointing at her own cheek, she playfully acknowledges her remarkable position in eighteenth-century society. For Dido Belle was the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman, adopted by the Earl of Mansfield. As Lord Chief Justice of England he would preside over the notorious Zong case - the drowning of 142 slaves by an unscrupulous shipping company. His ruling provided the legal underpinning to the abolition of slavery in Britain.From the privileged yet unequal lives of Dido and her cousin Elizabeth, to the horrific treatment of African slaves, Paula Byrne - the bestselling author of 'The Real Jane Austen' - vividly narrates the story of a family that defied convention, the legal trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and the woman who challenged notions of race at the highest rank.

Belle The True Story Behind the Movie

Belle The True Story Behind the Movie

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/05/2014

The inspiration behind the powerful new film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, this is the story of Dido Belle, whose adoption by an aristocratic family challenged the conventions of 18th century England.     In one of the most famous portraits in the world, a pretty girl is seated through the grounds of Kenwood House, a vision of aristocratic refinement. But the eye is drawn to the beautiful woman on her right. Pointing at her own cheek, she playfully acknowledges her remarkable position in eighteenth-century society. For Dido Belle was the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman, adopted by the Earl of Mansfield. As Lord Chief Justice of England he would preside over the notorious Zong case - the drowning of 142 slaves by an unscrupulous shipping company. His ruling provided the legal underpinning to the abolition of slavery in Britain. From the privileged yet unequal lives of Dido and her cousin Elizabeth, to the horrific treatment of African slaves, Paula Byrne - the bestselling author of The Real Jane Austen - vividly narrates the story of a family that defied convention, the legal trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and the woman who challenged notions of race at the highest rank.

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2014

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this paperback of the landmark biography, best-selling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen's life and work - a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more - to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear aunt Jane' allows. Byrne's lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen's life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/01/2014

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books. In this paperback of the landmark biography, best-selling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen's life and work - a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more - to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of `dear aunt Jane' allows. Byrne's lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen's life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Real Jane Austen

Real Jane Austen

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 07/05/2013

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things offers a startlingly original look at the revered writer through a variety of key moments, scenes, and objects in her life and work. Going beyond previous traditional biographies which have traced Austens daily life from Steventon to Bath to Chawton to Winchester, Paula Byrnes portraitorganized thematically and drawn from the most up-to-date scholarship and unexplored sourcesexplores the lives of Austens extended family, friends, and acquaintances. Through their absorbing stories, we view Austen on a much wider stage and discover unexpected aspects of her life and character. Byrne transports us to different worldsthe East Indies and revolutionary Parisand different eventsfrom a high society scandal to a petty case of shoplifting, She follows Austen on her extensive travels, setting her in contexts both global and English, urban and rural, political and historical, social and domesticwider perspectives of vital and still under-estimated importance to her creative life.Literary scholarship has revealed that letters and tokens in Austens novels often signal key turning points in the unfolding narrative. This groundbreaking biography explores Janes own story following the same principle. As Byrne reveals, small things in the writers worlda scrap of paper, a simple gold chain, an ivory miniature, a bathing machinehold significance in her emotional and artistic development. The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things introduces us to a woman deeply immersed in the world around her, yet far ahead of her time in her independence and ambition; to an author who was an astute commentator on human nature and the foibles of her own age. Rich and compelling, it is a fresh, insightful, and often surprising portrait of an artist and a vivid evocation of the complex world that shaped her.

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

The Real Jane Austen A Life in Small Things

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/01/2013

In this new biography, best-selling author Paula Byrne (bestselling author of Perdita, Mad World) explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists she admired, her residence in Bath, her love of the seaside, her travels around England and her long struggle to become a published author. Byrne uses a highly innovative technique whereby each chapter begins from an object that conjures up a key moment or theme in Austen's life and work-a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a laptop writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more. The woman who emerges in this biography is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of 'dear Aunt Jane' would allow. Published to coincide with the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice, this lively and scholarly biography brings Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.

Real Jane Austen

Real Jane Austen

Author: Paula Byrne Format: eBook Release Date: 17/01/2013

Since her death, people have got Jane Austen wrong. The real Jane - revealed for the first time in this landmark biography - was a less cosy, more spiky, more modern figure than she is usually imagined to be. Far from retelling a familiar story, Byrne's book uses new research and new techniques to give us Jane Austen for the 21st century. Paula Byrne - an internationally renowned Jane Austen scholar and a best-selling biographer - has uncovered a very different Jane Austen to the Jane of popular imagination. This Jane is a woman deeply immersed in the culture around her, but also far ahead of her time in her independence and tough-mindedness.. Throughout, this audio-book gives the sense of Austen as an astute commentator on human nature in general and her own age in particular, and above all as a writer of independence and ambition. Each chapter is focussed on a key moment in Austen's life: eg. when her handicapped brother is removed from the family, when her exotic cousin Eliza arrives in the family circle, when her aunt was arrested for shoplifting, her time alone in London. The book also gives detailed attention to the novels themselves. After this book, no longer can Austen be viewed as someone who did not engage with the great political events of her time. How many lovers of her work are aware that the Prince Regent kept a debauched household down the road from her village, that she was related by marriage to other major literary figures of the time such as the libertine Gothic novelist William Beckford and her favourite poet George Crabbe. The book will also identify her long lost seaside love as well as argue that her assumed 'genteel' sense of humour could also be savage, highly subversive irony.

Mad World Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead

Mad World Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/05/2010

A terrifically engaging and original biography about one of England's greatest novelists, and the glamorous, eccentric, debauched and ultimately tragic family that provided him with the most significant friendships of his life and inspired his masterpiece, `Brideshead Revisited'. Evelyn Waugh was already famous when `Brideshead Revisited' was published in 1945. Written at the height of the war, the novel was, he admitted, of no `immediate propaganda value'. Instead, it was the story of a household, a family and a journey of religious faith - an elegy, in many ways, for a vanishing world and a testimony to a family he had fallen in love with a decade earlier. The Lygons of Madresfield were every bit as glamorous, eccentric and compelling as their counterparts in `Brideshead Revisited'. In this engrossing biography, Paula Byrne takes an innovative approach to her subject, setting out to capture Waugh through those friendships that mattered most to him. Far from the snobbish misanthropist of popular caricature, she uncovers a man as loving and complex as the family that inspired him - a family deeply traumatised when their father was revealed as a homosexual and forced to flee the country. This brilliantly original biography unlocks for the first time the extent to which Waugh's great novel encoded and transformed his own experiences. In so doing, it illuminates the loves and obsessions that shaped his life, and brings us inevitably to a secret that dared not speak its name.

Perdita The Life of Mary Robinson

Perdita The Life of Mary Robinson

Author: Paula Byrne Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/01/2005

Sex, fame and scandal in the theatrical, literary and social circles of late 18th-century England. One of the most flamboyant women of the late-eighteenth century, Mary Robinson's life was marked by reversals of fortune. After being raised by a middle-class father, Mary was married, at age fourteen, to Thomas Robinson. His dissipated lifestyle landed the couple and their baby in debtors' prison, where Mary wrote her first book of poetry and met lifelong friend Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. On her release, Mary quickly became one of the most popular actresses of the day, famously playing Perdita in `The Winter's Tale' for a rapt audience that included the Prince of Wales, who fell madly in love with her. She later used his copious love letters for blackmail. This authoritative and engaging book presents a fascinating portrait of a woman who was variously darling of the London stage, a poet whose work was admired by Coleridge and a mistress to the most powerful men in England, and yet whose fortunes were nevertheless precarious, always on the brink of being squandered through recklessness, excess and passion.