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Biographies and Autobiographies

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.

This Month's Featured Biography / Autobiography Books

Other Biography / Autobiography Books

Censoring Queen Victoria

Censoring Queen Victoria

Author: Yvonne Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/03/2014

In 1901, two literary gentlemen were appointed a novel task: to preserve the memory of Queen Victoria in her own words. By the time they were finished, 460 volumes of the Queen's correspondence had become just three; their decisions -- and distortions -- would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. The editors chosen for the task were deeply eccentric and complicated men. Baron Esher was the consummate royal confidant who hid his obsession with Eton boys and incestuous relationship with his youngest son behind a persona of charm and discretion. Arthur Benson, an ex-Etonian master and closeted homosexual, struggled to fit in with the blue-blooded clubs and codes of the court while fighting bouts of severe depression. Together with King Edward VII they would decide how Victoria was to be remembered -- avoiding scandal, protecting the new king, promoting their own preconceptions about Victoria and her court, obscuring her role as a mother, and propping up the politics of the day. Based on unprecedented access to the original archives, this is a fascinating piece of historical detective work.

Censoring Queen Victoria How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon

Censoring Queen Victoria How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon

Author: Yvonne M. Ward Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2015

When Queen Victoria died, two gentlemen embarked on a monumental task: sorting through and making sense of her vast written legacy. For the first time, a British monarch's letters - carefully edited of course - were going to be published. The men chosen for the job were complex and peculiar characters. Viscount Esher, the consummate royal confidant, was blessed with charm, but he hid a secret obsession with Eton schoolboys and preyed upon his own son. Arthur Benson, schoolmaster and author, was plagued by depression, and he never felt at ease among the blue-blooded swells of the royal court. Together with King Edward VII, these men would decide how Victoria would be remembered. In their hands hundreds of volumes of the Queen's correspondence were whittled down to a mere three, and their decisions - and distortions - would influence perceptions of Victoria for generations to come. Based on unprecedented access to the royal archives at Windsor Castle, Censoring Queen Victoria is a rare and fascinating piece of historical detective work, revealing aspects of the Queen-Empress that we were never meant to see.

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind

Author: Yuval Noah Harari Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/04/2015

This is The Sunday Times Bestseller. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens? In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we're going. Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind's extraordinary history - from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age - and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. It tackles the biggest questions of history and of the modern world, and it is written in unforgettably vivid language. You will love it! (Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel).

ebook of the month
Once Upon A Time in the East A Story of Growing up

Once Upon A Time in the East A Story of Growing up

Author: Xiaolu Guo Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/01/2017

'This generation's Wild Swans' Daily Telegraph 'One of the most startling and fascinating memoirs I've read in recent years...a story of China' Libby Purves 'Impressive...moving...exhilarating' Financial Times 'Guo is rebellious, flamboyant and fundamentally optimistic...fascinating' Scotland on Sunday 'This stunning memoir picks up where Jung Chang's 1991 bestseller Wild Swans left off...This book will make your jaw drop, then clench in anger' Five stars, Sunday Telegraph 'Riveting...Guo is a bolder, angrier and more ambitious figure than her forebears' The Times Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her. When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning. A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China: censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends. In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home. Xiaolu Guo's extraordinary memoir is a handbook of life lessons. How to be an artist when censorship kills creativity and the only job you can get is writing bad telenovela scripts. How to be a woman when female babies are regularly drowned at birth and sexual abuse is commonplace. Most poignantly of all: how to love when you've never been shown how.

ebook of the month
Spider from Mars My Life with Bowie

Spider from Mars My Life with Bowie

Author: Woody Woodmansey Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/10/2016

For many fans, Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era remains the most extraordinarily creative period in his career. As a member of Bowie's legendary band at the time - The Spiders From Mars - Woody played drums on four seminal albums: The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and Aladdin Sane. Woody's memoir, which he started work on in 2014, focuses on this key period and brings it to glorious life. With the confidence of youth, Woody always thought he'd be in a famous band but the nineteen-year-old rocker from Hull never expected to be thrust into London's burgeoning glam rock scene, and also into a bottle-green velvet suit and girl's shoes.

A Different Kind of Weather

A Different Kind of Weather

Author: William Waldegrave Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/03/2015

'Why did you go into politics in the first place?' A question that former Cabinet minister has found himself asked, and indeed asking himself, over the years, Lord Waldegrave's is a life lived through politics. The youngest of seven children, and the son of an earl, Waldegrave's quintessentially English upbringing would go on to shape the course of his life, instilling in him a sense of independence and self-discipline needed to steel one for a successful career in government. Formative years spent at Eton, Oxford and Harvard fortified his resolve to enter the political establishment, and by the early seventies he finally achieved his greatest ambition. As an fearless young Conservative politician in the seventies and eighties, one who witnessed the fall of Heath and the triumph and eventual decline of Thatcher, Waldegrave was firmly at the heart of one of the most exciting and tumultuous periods of modern British history. However just as his star was in the ascent, Waldegrave became embroiled in a scandal which tarnished his reputation, but could not dampen his voracious enthusiasm for the political game. An unembroidered account of the narcotic effect of politics from one of the most fiercely intellectual governmental figures of the modern age, A Different Kind of Weather is a beautifully weighted memoir of political success and failure, and the passing of an era.

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!