As read on BBC Radio 4
Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography for A Strange Eventful History and winner of the Lifetime Services to Biography Award.
Michael Holroyd is one of the finest biographers of our time yet he was never interested in exploring his own family's history until the death of his parents in the 1980s. Then, faced with a sudden vacuum, he felt a desire to fill it with the stories of their lives.
Basil Street Blues, the first of his volumes of memoir, is part detective story, part family memoir and part an oblique voyage of self-discovery which is both startlingly comic and profoundly moving. In his follow-up volume, Mosaic, he delves deeper into his family history. Witty, touching and wry, Mosaic shows the strange interconnectedness of our lives, and how other people's stories, however eccentric or extreme, echo our own dreams and experiences.
These two volumes - published together for the first time here - form an extraordinary piece of writing, and an enthralling lesson in identity and perspective for both author and reader.
Basil Street Blues is an extraordinary piece of work...a classic piece of English autobiography
Fine, funny and touching...[Basil Street Blues is] an original, unforgettable book
A brilliant writer blessed with prefect pitch...there could be no more sympathetic and funny companion with whom to go into the jungle of genealogy than Holroyd
Michael Holroyd is one of the greatest biographers of our age... [Mosaic] is an absolute tour de force of brilliant writing
[Mosaic] is marvellous because the autobiographer is in fact a master-biographer