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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. 

Hello, Darlings! The Authorized Biography of Kenny Everett

Hello, Darlings! The Authorized Biography of Kenny Everett

Author: James Hogg, Robert Sellers Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Spontaneous, hilarious, irrepresible and, of course, trailblazing - Kenny Everett was revolutionary in television and radio comedy. Chris Evans, Chris Moyles, Rob Brydon and Steve Wright have all cited Kenny as a huge influence on their work - even the great Spike Milligan called him a genius. It was Kenny who developed the radio show format with which we are so familiar today: a mix of music, jingles, funny voices and sound effects. When he seamlessly made the move to television in the seventies, he created unforgettable characters such as Sid Snot, Cupid Stunt and Marcel Wave. Rarely seen without a smile on his face in public, in reality, Kenny was a deeply insecure man who suffered severe bouts of depression. He also struggled with his sexuality, only coming out to the public in 1985. Diagnosed with HIV in 1987, Kenny died in 1995. This in-depth and affectionate biography has been fully authorised by Kenny's family and contains original interviews with Kenny's sister, Kate and with his former wife, Lee, as well as entertainment figures such as Barry Cryer, Cliff Richard, Chris Tarrant and Paul Gambaccini. Packed with fabulous stories about the highs and lows of Kenny's life, his great friendships with The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, this is a book that any fan of comedy and entertainment must read.

Immortal

Immortal

Author: Duncan Hamilton Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

He is considered the greatest footballer of our time. No other imposed himself so completely on to the romantic imagination. No other was so emblematic of the era during which he flourished. And no other will ever be as memorable as George Best. On the field Best's skills were sublime and almost other-worldly. Off it, he had a magnetic appeal. He was treated like a pop icon and a pin-up; a fashion-model and a sex-symbol. Every man envied him and every woman adored him. To mark the 50th anniversary of his debut for Manchester United, Duncan Hamilton examines Best's crowded life and premature death. But most importantly, Hamilton presents Best at his glorious peak - the precocious goals, the labyrinthine runs, the poise and balletic balance and the body swerves. This is George Best as a football immortal.

An Endangered Species

An Endangered Species

Author: David Gower Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

As a cricketer, David Gower was famed for the elegance of his strokeplay as one of England's greatest batsmen and for his superb fielding. As a captain, he led his country to Ashes success, yet some queried his application because it all seemed to come to him so easily and effortlessly. But that was never the whole story: Gower was always committed and a great competitor, as this fascinating and frank book, looking back on his life and career, shows. Once he retired from the game, Gower built a new career for himself, first as team captain in the long-running TV comedy series They Think It's All Over, and then as an astute and charming presenter and commentator with Sky Sports. After more than 30 years as one of the most popular figures in the game, Gower now reveals there is so much more to his story than the cliched image of 'Lord' Gower flying in his Tiger Moth. He is a man of great insight, determination and drive, but who also knows there is always more to be had from life.

The Real Mrs. Brown The Authorised Biography of Brendan O'Carroll

The Real Mrs. Brown The Authorised Biography of Brendan O'Carroll

Author: Brian Beacom Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Who'd have thought a potty-mouthed Dublin mammy with a cream cardigan and elasticated tan tights could storm British TV screens and leave a nation helpless with laughter? Brendan O'Carroll performs to tens of thousands of people a night in packed-out stadiums across the country. In the last four years Mrs Brown's Boys has become a number 1 ratings success and he's even making a movie. But Brendan has had to battle hard for success. The youngest of eleven children, his mother was Maureen O'Carroll, a former nun who went on to become the first woman to be elected to the Irish parliament. Brendan adored his strong, widowed mother - and she later became the inspiration for his indomitable character Agnes Brown. However, the family endured poverty reminiscent of Angela's Ashes and Brendan saw no option but to leave school at 12 to work. He married young and for decades struggled to make ends meet. Eventually, bankrupt and desperate, Brendan went to see a fortune teller who told him she could see his future achieving worldwide success as a comedian and actor. At first Brendan laughed at the notion, but then he thought of how much his friends loved his gags, and decided to give it a go...This is the magical story of how a loveable Irishman with a wig and a wit as caustic as battery acid surprised everyone - most of all himself - by becoming one of the best-loved comedians in the world. It is a story of hardship, heartbreak, and talent and will remind readers afresh that sometimes the facts can be even more extraordinary than the fiction.

Bad Education

Bad Education

Author: Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Bad Education, written by and starring Jack Whitehall, follows Alfie Wickers the worst teacher to ever (dis)grace the British Education System, and a bigger kid than the pupils he teaches. Abbey Grove school is populated by some of the weirdest teachers you could ever meet: Fraser the hair-brained Headmaster who longs to be down with the kids, Miss Gulliver the biology teacher with a heart of gold but perhaps a dash too much openness and honesty, Miss Mollinson the happily swinging Head of Maths who won't let her hip replacement get in the way and Deputy Headmistress Miss Pickwell who displays all the charm and sensitivity of a Third Reich Dominatrix. Alfie's class is Form K, a bunch of misfits that have been written off by the rest of the school, but Alfie can't help but see a bit of himself in them. This is about a class of kids and their teacher's quest to get through life and get the best results with the minimum amount of effort possible. Sadly it's not an equation that always adds up. From a disastrous parents' evening to cringe-worthy sex-education lessons to life threatening self-defence classes to school elections full of dirty tricks and a school trip to see a rhino pig; Bad Education is school life as you've never seen it before. Bad Education: The Teachers' Handbook is filled with hilarious content from both the first and upcoming second series from pupils' report cards and the graffiti found in the staff toilets, to Alfie's teaching methods and the best ways to scam a free laptop from the government.

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey The Official Companion to All Four Series

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey The Official Companion to All Four Series

Author: Emma Rowley, Gareth Neame Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

A revealing look backstage at the hit TV show Downton Abbey. In-depth interviews give an exclusive insight into the actors' experiences on set as well as the celebrated creative team behind the award-winning drama. A lavishly illustrated book full of images from the new series including those stunning 1920s costumes, which will delight the millions of devoted Downton fans. Step inside the props store or the hair and make-up truck and catch a glimpse of the never-before-seen secret backstage world. Expertly crafted with inside knowledge and facts, this book will delve into the inspiration behind the details seen on screen, the choice of locations, the music and much more. With a perspective from the director's chair and rare insights into filming, this is the inside track on all aspects of the making of the show.

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation

Author: Andrew Lycett Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

1868, and bestselling author Wilkie Collins is hard at work on a new detective novel, The Moonstone. But he is weighed down by a mountain of problems - his own sickness, the death of his mother, and, most pressing, the announcement by his live-in mistress that she has tired of his relationship with another woman and intends to marry someone else. His solution is to increase his industrial intake of opium and knuckle down to writing the book T. S. Eliot called the 'greatest' English detective novel. Of Wilkie's domestic difficulties, not a word to the outside world: indeed, like his great friend Charles Dickens, he took pains to keep secret any detail of his menage. There's no doubt that the arrangement was unusual and, for Wilkie, precarious, particularly since his own books focused on uncovering such deeply held family secrets. Indeed, he was the master of the Victorian sensation novel, fiction that left readers on the edge of their seats as mysteries and revelations abounded. In this colourful investigative portrait, Andrew Lycett draws Wilkie Collins out from the shadow of Charles Dickens. Wilkie is revealed as a brilliant, witty, friendly, contrary and sensual man, deeply committed to his work. Here he is given his rightful place at the centre of the literary, artistic and historical movements of his age.

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

Author: Richard Dawkins Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists, Richard Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes. But what were the influences that shaped his life and intellectual development? And who inspired him to become the pioneering scientist and public thinker now famous (and infamous to some) around the world? In An Appetite for Wonder we join him on a personal journey back to an enchanting childhood in colonial Africa. There the exotic natural world was his constant companion. Boarding school in England at the age of eight, and, later, public school at Oundle introduce Dawkins, and the reader, to strange rules and eccentric schoolmasters, vividly described with both humorous affection and some reservation. An initial fervent attachment to Church of England religion soon gives way to disaffection and, later, teenage rebellion. Early signs of a preference for music, poetry and reading over practical matters become apparent as he recalls the opportunities that entered his small world. Oxford, however, is the catalyst to his life. Vigorous debate in the dynamic Zoology Department unleashes his innate intellectual curiosity, and inspirational mentors together with his own creative thinking ignite the spark that results in his radical new vision of Darwinism, The Selfish Gene. From innocent child to charismatic world-famous scientist, Richard Dawkins paints a colourful, richly textured canvas of his early life. Honest self-reflection and witty anecdotes are interspersed with touching reminiscences of his family and friends, literature, poetry and songs. We are finally able to understand the private influences that shaped the public man who, more than anyone else in his generation, explained our own origins.

As Luck Would Have it

As Luck Would Have it

Author: Sir Derek Jacobi Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Star of stage, screen and television, and one of only two people to be awarded two Knighthoods, Sir Derek Jacobi is one of Britain's most distinguished actors. 'If you want to be an actor, don't. If you need to be an actor, do.' The world of theatre could not have been further from Derek's childhood: an only child, born in Leytonstone, London. With his father a department store manager and his mother a secretary, his was very much a working class background. But nonetheless Derek always knew he was going to be an actor, and he remembers clearly the first time he was in costume - draping himself in his mother's glorious wedding veil as he paraded up and down the Essex Road with his friends. A few short years later, at the age of seven, Derek made his acting debut, playing both lead roles in a local library production of The Prince and the Swineherd. By the age of 18 Derek was playing Hamlet (his most famed role) at the Edinburgh festival. He won a scholarship to Cambridge, where he studied and acted alongside other future acting greats including Ian McKellen. His talent was quickly recognised and in 1963 he was invited to become one of the first members of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre. Often admired for his willingness to grapple with even the most dislikeable of characters, Derek Jacobi has worked continuously throughout his career, starring in roles ranging from the lead in I, Claudius to Hitler in Inside the Third Reich and Francis Bacon in the controversial Love Is The Devil. But it is his numerous Shakespearean roles that have gained him worldwide recognition. This book is, however, much more than a career record.

Rain Later, Good Painting the Shipping Forecast

Rain Later, Good Painting the Shipping Forecast

Author: Peter Collyer Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/09/2013

Peter Collyer's brilliant and detailed paintings offer a series of images which help conjure up the most mythical locations, whilst his delightful idiosyncratic text provides a wealth of fascinating insights. He introduces us to the people who live and work in these areas, and passes on snippets of tantalising information to give a powerful impression of the place and convey a real feeling of being there. The beautiful paintings from his travels truly capture the spirit of these wild and isolated spots, and this new edition includes new paintings, sketches and up to date text. This is a much-loved book celebrating an iconic broadcast, and its reissue will be welcomed by Peter's many admirers.

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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