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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.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH is one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War. It has now been made into a film, which has been scripted by Juliette Towhidi and is being produced by BBC Films and Heyday Films, the makers of Harry Potter. Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina) stars as Brittain, with Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii) playing her fiancé Roland Leighton. Testament of Youth is Vera Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time, and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933. A further title, Vera Brittain and the First World War: The Story of Testament of Youth is published to coincide with the new edition of Testament of Youth and explores the effects of the First World War on Vera Brittain, both in terms of her personal life and in terms of its effect on her development as a writer and her eventual decision to become a pacifist. Taking advantage of the interest generated by the film, it will bring her story to a new generation and incorporate the most up-to-date research. It will also include a short essay 'From Book to Film', describing the process of turning Testament of Youth into a major feature film. This will include interviews with the production staff and actors, as well as with members of Vera Brittain's family, including Shirley Williams. The film version of Testament of Youth is released in UK cinemas on Friday 16 January 2015. Click below to view the trailer.
In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.
Vicky Pattison always had big dreams, but four years ago she was working in a call centre in Newcastle and those dreams looked like they might never come true. Could a new reality series, Geordie Shore, be the big break she had been waiting for? Chosen from among thousands of hopefuls to take part in the controversial show, outspoken and outrageous Vicky was an immediate hit. Finally she was on her way to becoming a star ...Living your life on screen isn't always easy, however, and Vicky soon found herself struggling to cope: her relationship was toxic, her weight ballooning and her self-esteem in tatters. It looked like the glamorous and confident Vicky Pattison everyone knew was gone for good. But you can't keep a good Geordie girl down and now, for the first time, Vicky will reveal how she has turned her life around - and dish the dirt on what really goes on in the Geordie Shore house. And Vicky's not afraid to turn the spotlight on herself, exposing the sensitive soul underneath her famously tough exterior and speaking frankly about her battle with her weight, her run-ins with the law and the painful truth about her tempestuous relationship with castmate Ricci. It's time for Vicky Pattison to tell the truth, the whole truth and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
Ninety-three-year-old Victor Gregg has had a rich and fascinating life. King's Cross Kid follows his London childhood from the age of five, when life was so hard that the Salvation Army arranged for young Vic to be taken to the Shaftesbury Home for Destitute Children. Home again a year later, the scallywag years of late childhood began. Then, after the years of street gangs and run-ins with the law, Vic leaves school at fourteen and his real adventures start, and with them a working-class apprenticeship in survival. Ending with his enlistment in the army on the day of his eighteenth birthday, this prequel to the bestselling Rifleman will appeal to the many readers who were charmed by Victor Gregg's engaging, honest and warm voice.
March 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. As one would expect from the daughter of the famous and respected writer Alan Coren, it is no surprise Victoria Coren can herself write.What makes her book interesting is the life path she has chosen which, in every aspect, seems to be neither one thing nor another. A well-educated, 'nice young girl' compromises social respectability with the seedy world of poker (and the even seedier world of porn films). The daughter of a celebrity father mixes with celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Nigella Lawson (whose surname, curiously, she avoids identifying) but, at the same time, keeps company with the low life world of illegal poker hucksters in seedy, smoky vice dens. As a woman in the man's world of professional poker where, as Coren herself writes 'if this really were an upside-down world where all the gamblers were women, poker would be a much friendlier game. But I'm not sure I want it to be'. And even as a woman in an American-dominated 'sport', she remarks on her own 'crooked English teeth'. First published in 2009, there are numerous reviews of this book (and views on its author) available online including this by her acquaintance and fellow poker player Martin Amis: "For Richer, For Poorer seizes the reader with its first sentence and never lets go. Victoria Coren writes, on several levels, with wit, honesty, and perfect freshness." If this is an honestly objective review, then who are we to disagree? What we would say is that many reviews of this book state that you don't have to understand poker to enjoy it but, it does have to be said, you will probably enjoy it more if you do and you never know it might also teach you how to win a million…
I think all of us at some time in our lives when we reach a certain age worry a little about cancer. I think the thought, “how will I react” crosses our minds occasionally. That this brave lady chooses to make her ordeal so public, she produced video diaries and tweets and now her written diary, has helped thousands. At the end of the book she encloses some messages of thanks, a few from those who didn’t make it. It is tear-jerking but it is also laced with humour. Throughout, whenever possible, she kept working, collecting the kids from school and running her hectic household with the enormous support of her wonderful partner. During the end stages of thirty sessions of chemo, she had to drive forty-odd miles round trip between work and school collection for a ten minute appointment her local hospital couldn’t do. Well she was certainly a fighter, although that is not what she calls herself. She believed talking about it really helped alleviate the fear and despair. She was diagnosed shortly after she started hosting a daily news and current affairs show for BBC2 and takes us through her fascinating work as well as the 301 days of treatment. A brave lady.
I think all of us at some time in our lives when we reach a certain age worry a little about cancer. I think the thought, “how will I react” crosses our minds occasionally. That this brave lady chooses to make her ordeal so public, she produced video diaries and tweets and now her written diary, has helped thousands. At the end of the book she encloses some messages of thanks, a few from those who didn’t make it. It is tear-jerking but it is also laced with humour. Throughout, whenever possible, she kept working, collecting the kids from school and running her hectic household with the enormous support of her wonderful partner. During the end stages of thirty sessions of chemo, she had to drive forty-odd miles round trip between work and school collection for a ten minute appointment her local hospital couldn’t do. Well she was certainly a fighter, although that is not what she calls herself. She believed talking about it really helped alleviate the fear and despair. She was diagnosed shortly after she started hosting a daily news and current affairs show for BBC2 and takes us through her fascinating work as well as the 301 days of treatment. A brave lady. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
A frank, brave memoir of the overwhelming need to hurt herself. Apparently about one in every hundred people in the UK suffer from the illness. This is an important look at a very real problem, compellingly told.
A memoir that interweaves his early life with that of his great uncle, who was Indian, and his great aunt, a German Jew. It explores a world splintered by the tragedies and triumphs of the 20th century concentrating largely on his aunt’s family and friends left behind in Germany once she had escaped in 1938. It’s a worthy, detailed and very personal story.
From the most unlikely of beginnings in Newcastle, to Moscow, the streets of New York and back again this is an extraordinary tale of Cold War espionage and the true story behind the events depicted in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Bridge of Spies. It reads as if it has come straight from the pages of a John le Carre novel. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Vin Arthey by Mary Hogarth.
British actor and professional footballer, Vinnie Jones is the original bad boy made good and will tell the full extraordinary rags to riches story for the first time - the brilliance on the pitch, the brawls and drinking off the pitch, the arrests, the affairs, his wife's dramatic health scare and his latest headline scandal with a Russian prostitute. Bold and frank, this is Vinnie laid bare. Born and bred in Watford, Jones represented and captained the Welsh national football team after qualifying through a Welsh grandparent. He won the 1988 FA Cup final against Liverpool before moving to Wimbledon and then Leeds United. He has also played for Chelsea. His celebrity status has grown over the years after appearing in the 2010 series of Big Brother and coming third, as well as the hugely successful British Heart Foundation CPR campaign. Vinnie's bad boy tag has followed him into the world of film where he has used his hard man status to secure roles in hugely successful Brit Flicks, such as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Virginia Howes was a mother of four doing the ironing when she had a revelation. Still broody, but not really wanting to add to her family, she realised that becoming a midwife was her true vocation. It was a long journey to get the education and qualifications she needed, especially with a young family, but she was determined and never doubted her decision. Following her training, she spent three years working within the NHS, but her naturally independent spirit fought against the constraints of the system and twelve years ago she decided to set up on her own. Virginia works with mothers who want to give birth at home naturally, something which Virginia believes in passionately. 350 births later, Virginia still loves what she does. The Baby's Coming is Virginia's memoir and tells the stories of her training as a midwife as well as some of the most memorable of those 350 births: the most dramatic, the most touching. Virginia particularly remembers the births of her own grandchildren whose arrivals in the world were some of the most special moments for her as both a midwife and grandmother.
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.