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. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.

Menopausing

Menopausing

Author: Davina McCall Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/05/2022

'Menopausing is more than just a book, it's a movement. An uprising. Menopause affects every woman, and yet so many approach it with shame, fear, misinformation or silence. Why is no one talking about this? Who has the correct information? And how can we get it? That's how this book has come about. We are going to tell you the truth, so you can make an informed decision about your life and your body ... mic drop.' For too long, women have had to keep quiet about the menopause - its onset, its symptoms, its treatments - and what it means for us. Menopausing will build an empowered, supportive community to break this terrible silence once and for all. By exploring and explaining the science, debunking damaging myths, and smashing the taboos around the perimenopause and menopause, this book will equip women to make the most informed decisions about their health... and their lives. Menopausing will also celebrate the sharing of stories, enabling women to feel less alone and more understood, and talk openly and positively about menopause. No more scaremongering: just evidence-based info No shame: real women, real menopause stories, real empathy, real community Honest, no-holds-barred advice: Dry vagina? Zero sex drive? Hair loss? We've got it covered The start of a movement: to get everyone talking about the menopause in every home, GP surgery and workspace

The Familia Grande

The Familia Grande

Author: Camille Kouchner Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

The family's secret weighs on everyone... THE FAMILIA GRANDE is a tender, groundbreaking and lacerating memoir written by a sister who could no longer remain silent... Set in amongst the French intellectual elite in Paris and their lavender scented estates in Provence, it tells a story of a corrosive secret that sits in a family for decades and ultimately razes it and the political, literary elite that enabled its silence, to the ground. Already an international bestseller, it has touched a nerve across the globe and has brought about a powerful reckoning of incest, and its far-reaching trauma. The Familia Grande is a book of a generation. 

My Name Is Why: Quick Reads 2022

My Name Is Why: Quick Reads 2022

Author: Lemn Sissay Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

SPECIALLY ABRIDGED FOR QUICK READS How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story is how. This story is true. My Name Is Why is a true story about growing up in care and fighting to succeed despite the cruelty and failures of the care system.

The Instant

The Instant

Author: Amy Liptrot Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Wishing to leave behind the quiet isolation of her Orkney island life, Amy Liptrot books a one-way flight to Berlin. Searching for new experiences, inspiration and love, she rents a loftbed in a shared flat and looks for work. She explores the streets, nightclubs and parks and seeks out the city's wildlife - goshawks, raccoons and hooded crows. She looks for love through the screen of her laptop. Over the course of a year Amy makes space hoping for the unexpected. And it comes with an erotic jolt, in the form of a love affair that obsesses her. The Instant is an unapologetic look at the addictive power of love and lust. It is also an exploration of the cycles of the moon, the flight paths of migratory birds, the mesmerising power of Neolithic stonework and the trails followed by a generation who exist online.

Outside, the Sky is Blue

Outside, the Sky is Blue

Author: Christina Patterson Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/02/2022

OUTSIDE, THE SKY IS BLUE is a beautifully drawn, heart-breaking yet also joyful memoir of growing up, of living with mental ill health and cancer, and of working out what it means to be in a family, what it means to lose a family - and what's left when you're the last one left. When Christina Patterson's brother Tom died very suddenly, she faced the harrowing task of clearing out his house. Tom had always been the one who held on to the family treasures and memories, but now Christina had to sift through box after box of letters, papers, photos and belongings, not just of Tom's, but of their parents and their older sister, Caroline. Those boxes, albums and papers tell the story of a young couple who decide, when their children are small, to swap a glamorous diplomatic life in Rome for a housing estate in Surrey. But their new suburban life, of trips to National Trust houses, fizzy drinks over TV costume drama and walks at Wisley Gardens, is increasingly disrupted by Caroline's, erratic behaviour. As she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tom seeks solace in sport and Christina in a youth club where she hopes to meet boys, but finds God.

Dalvi: Six Years in the Artic Tundra

Dalvi: Six Years in the Artic Tundra

Author: Laura Galloway Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

An ancestry test suggesting she shared some DNA with the Sami people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic tundra, tapped into Laura Galloway's wanderlust; an affair with a Sami reindeer herder ultimately led her to leave New York for the tiny town of Kautokeino, Norway. When her new boyfriend left her unexpectedly after six months, it would have been easy, and perhaps prudent, to return home. But she stayed for six years. Dálvi is the story of Laura's time in a reindeer-herding village in the Arctic, forging a solitary existence as she struggled to learn the language and make her way in a remote community for which there were no guidebooks or manuals for how to fit in. Her time in the North opened her to a new world. And it brought something else as well: reconciliation and peace with the traumatic events that had previously defined her - the sudden death of her mother when she was three, a difficult childhood and her lifelong search for connection and a sense of home. Both a heart-rending memoir and a love letter to the singular landscape of the region, Dálvi explores with great warmth and humility what it means to truly belong.

Star Books
Sequins for a Ragged Hem

Sequins for a Ragged Hem

Author: Amryl Johnson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Sequins for a Ragged Hem narrates Johnson's return tour to Trinidad as a spiritual homecoming made problematic, among other reasons, by the fact that the house where she was born had been demolished. Amryl Johnson came to England from Trinidad when she was eleven. In 1983 she set off for a six month journey in the Caribbean. From the moment she steps off the plane into 'carnival fever', we are caught up in the excitement of her journey: her reunion with her mother, the exhilaration of dancing all night to calypso on the streets of Port-of-Spain . . . But she cannot escape, nor wants to, from the inheritance of colonialism. Her time in the Caribbean is also a journey of the self. The quest for memory is as powerful as the desire to escape. As her trip draws to a close, she describes with courage and eloquence her attempts to reunite the selves that have been separated by different cultures.

Drawn in Colour

Drawn in Colour

Author: Noni Jabavu Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Moving from South Africa to the UK in her youth, Drawn in Colour begins when Noni is summoned back to South Africa as a young woman for the funeral of her brother. After the funeral, she spends time travelling around South Africa and Uganda, reflecting on the complex, layered impacts of colonialism on the communities she meets. This is a thoughtful, insightful memoir from a singular voice - as one of the first African women to pursue a literary career in the UK, Noni Jabavu is a pioneer whose talent shines through in this extraordinary narrative.

Growing Out

Growing Out

Author: Barbara Blake Hannah Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'A gorgeously exuberant account. . . writing that is natural and vivacious . . . a fascinating and hugely enjoyable read.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Travelling over from Jamaica as a teenager, Barbara's journey is remarkable. She finds her footing in TV, and blossoms. Covering incredible celebrity stories, travelling around the world and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Germaine Greer and Michael Caine - her life sparkles. But with the responsibility of being the first black woman reporting on TV comes an enormous amount of pressure, and a flood of hateful letters and complaints from viewers that eventually costs her the job. In the aftermath of this fallout, she goes through a period of self-discovery that allows her to carve out a new space for herself first in the UK and then back home in Jamaica - one that allows her to embrace and celebrate her black identity, rather than feeling suffocated in her attempts to emulate whiteness and conform to the culture around her. Growing Out provides a dazzling, revelatory depiction of race and womanhood in the 1960s from an entirely unique perspective. A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

A Black Boy at Eton

A Black Boy at Eton

Author: Dillibe Onyeama Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'The story [Onyeama] had to tell was so gripping and shocking, it wouldn't let me go . . . A remarkably well-written memoir.' Bernardine Evaristo, from the Introduction Dillibe was the second black boy to study at Eton - joining in 1965 - and the first to complete his education there. Written at just 21, this is a deeply personal, revelatory account of the racism he endured during his time as a student at the prestigious institution. He tells in vivid detail of his own background as the son of a Nigerian judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, of his arrival at the school, of the curriculum, of his reception by other boys (and masters), and of his punishments. He tells, too, of the cruel racial prejudice and his reactions to it, and of the alienation and stereotyping he faced at such a young age. A Black Boy at Eton is a searing, ground-breaking book displaying the deep psychological effects of colonialism and racism. A title in the Black Britain: Writing Back series - selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy

Author: Mark Hodkinson Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Mark Hodkinson grew up among the terrace houses of Rochdale in a house with just one book. His dad kept it on top of a wardrobe with other items of great worth - wedding photographs and Mark's National Cycling Proficiency certificate. If Mark wanted to read it, he was warned not to crease the pages or slam shut the covers. Today, Mark is an author, journalist and publisher. He still lives in Rochdale, but is now snugly ensconced (or is that buried?) in a 'book cave' surrounded by 3,500 titles - at the last count. No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy is his story of growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s. It's about schools (bad), music (good) and the people (some mad, a few sane), and pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors (some bad, mostly good) that led the way, and shaped his life. It's also about a family who just didn't see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who, in his own way, taught Mark the power of stories. In recounting his own life-long love affair with books, Mark also tells the story of how writing and reading has changed over the last five decades, starting with the wave of working-class writers in the 1950s and 60s, where he saw himself reflected in books for the first time.

The 50 Greatest Architects

The 50 Greatest Architects

Author: Ike Ijeh Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/01/2022

Underpinned by a desire to “awaken a greater appreciation of your built environment”, this elegant anthology from award-winning architect Ike Ijeh showcases the world’s fifty greatest architects, through time, and across the globe. Framed in a compelling relatable context (“Of all art forms, architecture is ultimately a human story, and the most rewarding aspect of unravelling that story and shedding light on those who have made it great is that we learn a little something about ourselves”), Ijeh provides us with engaging biographies of each architect, alongside showstopping photos and illustrated plans of their major creations. Featuring key figures from every major era and movement - among them Hemiunu, creator of the Great Gaza Pyramid, Brunelleschi, the founding father of Renaissance architecture, Sinan, who designed almost 400 buildings in Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, and exceptional present-day practitioners - the author offers insights into why their work may be deemed “great” to create a book that’s both enlightening and beautiful.