No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
See below for a selection of the latest books from Biography: literary category. Presented with a red border are the Biography: literary books that have been lovingly read and reviewed by the experts at Lovereading. With expert reading recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features Lovereading will help you find great Biography: literary books and those from many more genres to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. And it's all free!
The first biography of W. G. Sebald: a robust, intricate, landmark portrait of one of the most significant and lauded cultural figures of the twentieth century W.G. Sebald was one of the most extraordinary and influential writers of the twentieth century. Through books including The Emigrants, Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn, he pursued an original literary vision that combined fiction, history, autobiography and photography and addressed some of the most profound themes of contemporary literature: the burden of the Holocaust, memory, loss and exile. The first biography to explore his life and work, Speak, Silence pursues the true Sebald through the memories of those who knew him and through the work he left behind. This quest takes Carole Angier from Sebald's birth as a second-generation German at the end of the Second World War, through his rejection of the poisoned inheritance of the Third Reich, to his emigration to England, exploring the choice of isolation and exile that drove his work. It digs deep into a creative mind on the edge, finding profound empathy and paradoxical coldness, saving humour, and an elusive mix of fact and fiction in his life as well as work. The result is a unique, ferociously original portrait that pushes the boundaries of biography as its subject pushed the boundaries of fiction.
Mark Doty has always felt haunted by Walt Whitman's bold, new American voice, and by his equally radical claims about body and soul and what it means to be a self. In What Is the Grass, Doty - a poet, a lover of men, a New Yorker, and an American - keeps company with Whitman and his mutable, landmark work, Leaves of Grass, tracing the resonances between his own experience and the legendary poet's life and work. What is it, then, between us? Whitman asks. Doty's answer is to explore spaces tied to Whitman's life and spaces where he finds the poet's ghost, meditating on desire, love, and the mysterious wellsprings of the poet's enduring work. How does a voice survive death? What Is the Grass is a conversation across time and space, a study of the astonishment one poet finds in the accomplishment of another, and an attempt to grasp Whitman's deeply hopeful vision of humanity.
'A sympathetic and perceptive account of a fine writer at a critical moment in our cultural life... Todd's enthusiasm for her subject is infectious' KEN LOACH On 27 May 1958, A Taste of Honey opened in a small fringe theatre in London. Written by a nineteen-year-old bus driver's daughter from Salford, the play exposed a deeply polarised society in Britain, sparked press and political outrage and transformed its young author into an unexpected star. Shelagh Delaney's assertive female characters struck an immediate chord with working-class women who dreamed of more than just suburban housewifery, and her work and legacy would go on to inspire future generations of writers, musicians and artists. This is the remarkable story of how a working-class teenager stormed theatreland, exploded old certainties about class, race, sex and taste, and blazed an incendiary new path in British culture. 'Anyone who values what is best in British theatre and film will want to join Selina Todd as she digs deep into the brilliance of Delaney's work - and her character. It's a riveting book' DAVID HARE
For many thousands of readers Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet is almost a way of life. Ironic, haunting and melancholy, this completely unclassifiable work is the masterpiece of one of the twentieth century's most enigmatic writers. Richard Zenith's Pessoa at last allows us to understand this extraordinary figure. Some eighty-five years after his premature death in Lisbon, where he left over 25,000 manuscript sheets in a wooden trunk, Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) can now be celebrated as one of the great modern poets. Setting the story of his life against the nationalistic currents of European history, Zenith charts the heights of Pessoa's explosive imagination and literary genius. Much of Pessoa's charm and strangeness came from his writing under a variety of names that he used not only to conceal his identity but also to write in wildly varied styles with different imagined personalities. Zenith traces the back stories of virtually all of these invented others, called 'heteronyms', demonstrating how they were projections, spin-offs or metamorphoses of Pessoa himself. Zenith's monumental work confirms the power of Pessoa's words to speak prophetically to the disconnectedness of modern life. It is also a wonderful book about Lisbon, the city which Pessoa reinvented and through which his different selves wandered.
'Make this your next inspirational read. Trust us, it's Oprah's Book Club worthy' Vice In London in 1958, a play by a 19-year-old redefined women's writing in Britain. It also began a movement that would change women's lives forever. The play was A Taste of Honey and the author, Shelagh Delaney, was the first in a succession of young women who wrote about their lives with an honesty that dazzled the world. They rebelled against sexism, inequality and prejudice and in doing so challenged the existing definitions of what writing and writers should be. Bypassing the London cultural elite, their work reached audiences of millions around the world, paved the way for profound social changes and laid the foundations of second-wave feminism. After Delaney came Edna O'Brien, Lynne Reid Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn, Virginia Ironside and Margaret Forster; an extraordinarily disparate group who were united in their determination to shake the traditional concepts of womanhood in novels, films, television, essays and journalism. They were as angry as the Angry Young Men, but were also more constructive and proposed new ways to live and love in the future. They did not intend to become a literary movement but they did, inspiring other writers to follow. Not since the Brontes have a group of young women been so determined to tell the truth about what it is like to be a girl. In this biographical study, the acclaimed author, Celia Brayfield, tells their story for the first time.
Compiled from personal letters, interviews with Tom's wife Rene and recorded interviews, this book captures the remarkable and largely unknown efforts by Tom Atkinson to help Indonesia gain independence from the Dutch and to become established as a new country, while also allowing for a glimpse into his personal life, his thoughts and his feelings.
A New York Times Book of the Year After being diagnosed with AIDS, Herve Guibert wrote this devastating, darkly humorous and personal novel, chronicling three months in the penultimate year of the narrator's life. In the wake of his friend Muzil's death, he goes from one quack doctor to another, from holidays to test centres, and charts the highs and lows of trying to cheat death. On publication in 1990, the novel scandalized French media, which quickly identified Muzil as Guibert's close friend Michel Foucault. The book became a bestseller, and Guibert a celebrity. The book has since attained a cult following for its tender, fragmented and beautifully written accounts of illness, friendship, sex, art and everyday life. It catapulted Guibert into notoriety and sealed his reputation as a writer of shocking precision and power.
Eighty-five years after his wrenching death in a cramped Lisbon apartment, where he left more than 25,000 manuscript sheets in a wooden trunk, Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) remains one of the most enigmatic and underappreciated poets of the twentieth century. Celebrated for writing in dozens of different poetic voices, known as heteronyms, Pessoa has finally found his definitive biographer in renowned translator Richard Zenith. Setting the story of Pessoa's life against the nationalistic currents of early twentieth-century European history, Zenith charts the depths of Pessoa's explosive imagination and literary genius. Much as Jose Saramago brought one of Pessoa's heteronyms to life in The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Zenith traces the backstories of virtually all of Pessoa's imagined personalities, demonstrating how they were projections, spin-offs, or metamorphoses of Pessoa himself. Nothing less than a literary masterpiece, Zenith's monumental work confirms the power of Pessoa's words to speak prophetically to the disconnectedness of modern life.
The first English-language biography of one of the great literary talents of the twentieth century, written by his award-winning translator Bernofsky takes us into the heart of an artist's life/work struggles, brilliantly illuminating Walser's exquisite sensibility and uncompromising radical innovations, while deftly tracking how his life gradually came apart at the seams. A tragic and intimate portrait. -Amy Sillman Robert Walser is the perfect pathetic poet: pithy, awkward, drinks too much, sibling rivalrous, ambitious, broke, and mentally ill. Was he proto queer or trans, this red headed writer who next to Gertrude Stein might be the most influential writer of our moment? Riveting and heart-breaking, this biography kept me drunk for days. -Eileen Myles The great Swiss-German modernist author Robert Walser lived eccentrically on the fringes of society, shocking his Berlin friends by enrolling in butler school and later developing an urban-nomad lifestyle in the Swiss capital, Bern, before checking himself into a psychiatric clinic. A connoisseur of power differentials, his pronounced interest in everything inconspicuous and modest-social outcasts and artists as well as the impoverished, marginalized, and forgotten-prompted W. G. Sebald to dub him a clairvoyant of the small. His revolutionary use of short prose forms won him the admiration of Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Robert Musil, and many others. He was long believed an outsider by conviction, but Susan Bernofsky presents a more nuanced view in this immaculately researched and beautifully written biography. Setting Walser in the context of early twentieth century European history, she provides illuminating analysis of his extraordinary life and work, bearing witness to his extreme artistic delight.
In 2003 the former Women's Press editor and critic Sarah LeFanu published her acclaimed biography of Rose Macaulay with Virago Press. 'A magnificent job ... imaginative and thoughtful, dense with distilled information ... LeFanu offers a skilled, visual, intellectual and emotional picture of a complex woman' -Independent 'A fine biography ... rich and perceptive ... Sarah LeFanu [is] an able and astute judge of Macaulay's writings' - Times Literary Supplement As well as writing the biography, LeFanu was keeping a detailed journal of her research trips and her processes as a biographer, arguing with herself over what to include, what to pursue, and what to leave behind. Her immersion in her research led to Rose intruding in her dreams, and fantastical imaginings of what Rose would say or do, at each fork in the road. Dreaming of Rose is a remarkable record of the art of biography, and the search for another woman's life. Research trips to Varazze in Italy to look for Rose's childhood, and to Trabzon in Turkey to find traces of The Towers of Trebizond, were remarkably intuitive ventures that found treasures in unexpected places. Dreaming of Rose is also a memoir of a woman juggling the demands of teaching, research and writing while patching together a living. LeFanu's work on Rose was squeezed in between many other commitments and responsibilities: she wrote for the BBC and taught creative writing and English literature. Suffused with the tensions and dramas of everyday life, and the necessity for intellectual integrity, this is an important memoir of women and writing.