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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. 

Below Stairs The Bestselling Memoirs of a 1920s Kitchen Maid

Below Stairs The Bestselling Memoirs of a 1920s Kitchen Maid

Author: Margaret Powell Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2011

Arriving at the great houses of 1920s London, fifteen-year-old Margaret's life in service was about to begin...As a kitchen maid - the lowest of the low - she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and even bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlourmaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress' nephew, Margaret's tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation.

The Girl on the Wall One Life's Rich Tapestry

The Girl on the Wall One Life's Rich Tapestry

Author: Jean Baggott Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2011

As the clock struck midnight on 31 December 1999, Jean Baggott vowed that from that point on her life would be devoted to the happiness of 'the girl on the wall' - a 1948 photograph taken of Jean when she was eleven, recreated in needlework. Reflecting on her hopes and dreams 60 years on from that photo, Jean stitched a remarkable tapestry looking back on her life and the changing world around her. The tapestry consists of 73 interlocking circles, giving a unique portrait of everyday life for the working people of the industrialised West Midlands, and the wider world. Each chapter of her book relates to one circle in the tapestry as Jean explores the memories the circle evokes.

The Woman I Was Born to be

The Woman I Was Born to be

Author: Susan Boyle Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2011

In April 2009, a modest middle-aged woman from a village in Scotland was catapulted to global fame when the YouTube video of her audition for Britain's Got Talent touched the hearts of millions all over the world. From singing karaoke in local pubs to live performance with an eighty-piece orchestra in Japan's legendary Budokan arena and a record-breaking debut album, Susan Boyle has become an international superstar. This astonishing transformation has not always been easy for Susan, faced with all the trappings of celebrity, but in the whirlwind of attention and expectation, she has always found calm and clarity in music. Susan was born to sing. Now, for the first time, Susan tells the story of her life and the challenges she has struggled to overcome with faith, fortitude and an unfailing sense of humour. 'When I strutted onto the stage for that audition, I was a scared wee lassie, still grieving for my mother, not caring how I looked. I think I've grown up a lot in the last year, become more of a lady, and I'm not so frightened anymore. I'm telling my story to try and show that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, that you shouldn't just look at the label - you must look at the whole person, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I hope that it will show that dreams are not impossible, if you've got courage and a willingness to go on no matter what the circumstances.'

From the Horse’s Mouth
… or the Groom’s

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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!

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