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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.
A sharply amusing and captivating memoir based on the attempt of the author to make a new life in France. Tommy Barnes and his girlfriend escape the 9-5 of the UK after being made redundant. Surrounded by animals, friendly locals, and stunning countryside, Tommy struggles to start a micro-brewery in the heart of the Loire Valley. The author is more than happy to poke fun at himself, he is also incredibly honest. His writing ensured I didn’t feel too badly as I chortled, smirked and raised my eyebrows as he somewhat stumbles through life. Rather stealing the show is Burt the dog, described by Tommy as squat, surly and defiant, Burt makes it his life mission to cause chaos wherever he is. I also just have to mention the gorgeous cover, which most definitely called out to me. ‘A Beer in the Loire’ is an engaging, ever so entertaining read, oh, and there are several recipes for beer too, how fabulous!
Shortlisted for the Galaxy Biography of the Year 2010. October 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair releases his memoir A Journey, which charts the successes and controversies surrounding his time as premier and tells us more about Iraq, his complex relationship with Gordon Brown and how it feels to be responsible for running the country. This memoir provides a tantalising glimpse of the man behind the politics.
From the end of the Picadilly line to the plains of Africa, an unlikely journey fired by a childhood reading of Tarzan of the Apes. Tony Fitzjohn found his path in life, helping save the lions of Africa. A particularly valuable guide as he pulls no punches when dealing with the reality of poaching, encroachment and crime and the effects these have on his life-saving work. Like for Like Reading:Born Free: The Full Story, Joy AdamsonWild Life, Amazing Animals, Extraordinary People, Astonishing Places, Simon King
'I was no longer fitting in at school. I was unsure of my friends, and they were increasingly unsure of me. I wanted to be a rock star. But while all around, voices were starting to break, acne beginning to appear, facial hair sprouting, I remained all flabby flesh and innate scruff, with a high-pitched whine and not a muscle to my name. I was the runt of the class and rarely allowed to forget it. I had no father at home to help me out, and could hardly talk to my mum. So I took solace in The Jam.' As a boy, Tony Fletcher frequently felt out of place. Yet somehow he secured a ringside seat for one of the most creative periods in British cultural history. Boy About Town tells the story of the bestselling author's formative years in the pre- and post-punk music scenes of London, counting down, from fifty to number one: attendance at seminal gigs and encounters with musical heroes; schoolboy projects that became national success stories; the style culture of punks, mods and skinheads and the tribal violence that enveloped them; life as a latchkey kid in a single-parent household; weekends on the football terraces in a quest for street credibility; and the teenage boy's unending obsession with losing his virginity. Boy About Town is an evocative, bittersweet, amusing and wholly original account of growing up and coming of age in the glory days of the 1970s.
Tony Garnett's story begins in working-class, war-torn Birmingham where he movingly describes the trauma of his mother's death following a back-street abortion. Nineteen days later, stricken with grief, Tony's father committed suicide and Tony was sent to live with other family members. He eventually moved to London and was part of the counterculture scene in the 1960s. Tony takes us behind the scenes of a selection of his more famous productions, offering secrets and anecdotes, some moving, some amusing.
You can take the man out of the city, but is the countryside ready for him? Comedian and born and bred townie, Tony Hawks is not afraid of a challenge - or indeed a good bet. He's hitchhiked round Ireland with a fridge and taken on the Moldovan football team at tennis, one by one. Now the time has come for his greatest gamble yet - turning his back on comfortable city life to move to the wilds of the West Country. With his partner Fran in tow and their first child on the way, he embraces the rituals of village life with often absurd and hilarious results, introducing us to an ensemble of eclectic characters along the way. One minute he's taking part in a calamitous tractor run, the next he's chairing a village meeting, but of course he still finds time for one last solo adventure before fatherhood arrives - cycling coast to coast with a mini pig called Titch. In the epic battle of man vs countryside, who will win out?
March 2012 Travel Book of the Month. This is a travel guide with a twist. An illustrated and informative guide to the places in England (real and imagined) associated with Charles Dickens and featured in his works. With hundreds of entries it is endlessly fascinating and is the perfect companion for Dickens fans, tourists and armchair travellers alike.
Torey Hayden's books are all extraordinary tales of inspiration and this is no exception. Just Another Kid follows the stories of six children, each with very different problems. All of them in need of serious help, care and understanding to overcome their severe issues. This book focuses a lot on the mother of one of the children who becomes Torey's classroom assistant despite her personal battle with alcohol, providing an interesting angle to the story.
Torey is an educational psychologist and has written about a number of her sad cases. She is an extraordinarily determined lady here revealing the shocking story of a child too traumatised to communicate at all. It is a real tear-jerker.
They call me Sour. The opposite of sweet. Shanking, stabbing, steaming, robbing, I did it all, rolling with the Man Dem. I did it because I was bad. I did it because I had heart. And the reason I reckon I got away with it for so long? Because I was a girl. SOUR is the true story of a former Brixton gang girl, drug dealer and full-time criminal. A member of the Younger 28s, a notorious gang that terrorised the postcodes around Brixton in the 90s, Sour escapes a troubled family life to immerse herself in the street life of likking and linking. She never leaves her house without a knife. At the age of fifteen, she stabs an innocent man in the street, earning her unrivalled respect and 'Top-Dog' status amongst her crew. She believes she is invincible. But the consequences of her actions are soon to catch up with her. Waking for the second time in two weeks in a hospital bed, to the news that she is pregnant, she realises it's time to turn her life around. Motherhood will be a rude awakening, but it may also be her saving grace. Told with raw emotions and ferocious honesty, this is the real, on-the-record, story of one woman's descent down the rabbit hole of gangland, and her efforts, as a daughter, mother and girlfriend, to claw herself out.
I was only sixteen when I bought an electric guitar and joined a band. A year later, I formed an all-girl band called the Marine Girls and played gigs, and signed to an indie label, and started releasing records. Then, for eighteen years, between 1982 and 2000, I was one half of the group Everything But the Girl. In that time, we released nine albums and sold nine million records. We went on countless tours, had hit singles and flop singles, were reviewed and interviewed to within an inch of our lives. I've been in the charts, out of them, back in. I've seen myself described as an indie darling, a middle-of-the-road nobody and a disco diva. I haven't always fitted in, you see, and that's made me face up to the realities of a pop career - there are thrills and wonders to be experienced, yes, but also moments of doubt, mistakes, violent lifestyle changes from luxury to squalor and back again, sometimes within minutes.
'I do not live in a corner. A thousand eyes see all I do.' Elizabeth I The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior. They saw the tears shed by Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the tragic secret behind 'Bloody' Mary's phantom pregnancies. And they saw the 'crooked carcass' beneath Elizabeth I's carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories. It is the accounts of these eyewitnesses, as well as a rich array of other contemporary sources that historian Tracy Borman has examined more closely than ever before.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.