• "Leader has surpassed himself... he gives us not only the man, but also his milieu; he gives us not only the compelling virtues but also the staggering flaws. This is the best biography I have read for ages: deeply researched, crisply written and beautifully judged"

    Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph
  • "Very thorough and very straight-talking. It's also very clear in its aims...He displays the facts of each matter plainly, allowing the reader to deliver their own praise and blame, and counterbalances them with his attention to the work. It's an impressively well-judged response"

    Andrew Motion, Guardian
  • "Marvellous...It has become a fashion to denounce long biographies as telling us more than we need to know, but Leader's is a triumphant vindication of its 900-plus pages. It's a pleasure to read, and the accumulation of detail gives a real sense of a life being led"

    Jeremy Lewis, Independent
  • "This is a book of true stature about a complex talent. Few literary biographies can match it for depth and intimacy"

    John Carey, Sunday Times
  • "Marvellous...I ought to say that this book is 200 pages too long, but as I enjoyed almost every word of it, I can't"

    Ferdinand Mount, Spectator