New and forthcoming
On 15 October 1838, the body of a thirty-six-year-old woman was found in Cape Coast Castle, West Africa, a bottle of Prussic acid in her hand. She was one of the most famous English poets of her day: Letitia Elizabeth Landon, known by her initials ‘L.E.L.’
What was she doing in Africa? Was her death an accident, as the inquest claimed? Or had she committed suicide, or even been murdered?
To her contemporaries, she was an icon, hailed as the ‘female Byron’, admired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Heinrich Heine, the young Brontë sisters and Edgar Allan Poe. However, she was also a woman with secrets, the mother of three illegitimate children whose existence was subsequently wiped from the record. After her death, she became the subject of a cover-up which is only now unravelling.
Too scandalous for her reputation to survive, Letitia Landon was a brilliant woman who made a Faustian pact in a ruthless world. She embodied the post-Byronic era, the ‘strange pause’ between the Romantics and the Victorians. This new investigation into the mystery of her life, work and death excavates a whole lost literary culture, in which the legacy of Keats and Shelley turned toxic.
"There was a question that had come to trouble me a bit earlier, once I had taken the first steps on this return journey to Reims...
Why, when I have had such an intense experience of forms of shame related to class, shame in relation to the milieu in which I grew up, why, when once I had arrived in Paris and started meeting people from such different class backgrounds, I would often find myself lying about my class origins... why had it never occurred to me to take up this problem in a book?"
Returning to Reims is a breath-taking memoir of return, a family story of class, sexuality, gender and of the shifting political allegiances of the French working classes. A phenomenon in France and a huge bestseller in Germany, Didier Eribon has written the defining memoir of our times.
'You may not run away from the thing that you are
because it comes and comes and comes as sure as you breathe.'
This is the story of Yrsa Daley-Ward, and all the things that happened - 'even the Terrible Things (and God, there were Terrible Things)'. It's about her childhood in the north-west of England with her beautiful, careworn mother Marcia, Linford (the man formerly known as Dad, 'half-fun, half-frightening') and her little brother Roo, who sees things written in the stars. It's about growing up and discovering the power and fear of her own sexuality, of pitch grey days of pills and powder and encounters. It's about damage and pain, but also joy. Told with raw intensity, shocking honesty and the poetry of the darkest of fairy tales, The Terrible is a memoir of going under, losing yourself, and finding your voice.
The Sunday Times bestseller Paul Theroux collects a rich feast of his writing and essays - from travel to personal memoir - published all together here for the first time
Drawing together a fascinating body of writing from over 14 years of work, Figures in a Landscape ranges from profiles of cultural icons (Oliver Sacks, Elizabeth Taylor, Robin Williams) to intimate personal remembrances; from thrilling adventures in Africa to literary writings from Theroux's rich and expansive personal reading. Collectively these pieces offer a fascinating portrait of the author himself, his extraordinary life, restless and ever-curious mind.
Rose Tremain grew up in post-war London, a city of grey austerity, still partly in ruins, where both food and affection were fiercely rationed. The girl known then as ‘Rosie’ and her sister Jo spent their days longing for their grandparents' farm, buried deep in the Hampshire countryside, a green paradise of feasts and freedom, where they could at last roam and dream.
But when Rosie is ten years old, everything changes. She and Jo lose their father, their London house, their school, their friends, and -- most agonisingly of all -- their beloved Nanny, Vera, the only adult to have shown them real love and affection.
Briskly dispatched to a freezing boarding-school in Hertfordshire, they once again feel like imprisoned castaways. But slowly the teenage Rosie escapes from the cold world of the Fifties, into a place of inspiration and mischief, of loving friendships and dedicated teachers, where a young writer is suddenly ready to be born.
'I defy you to read this book and come away with a mind unchanged' - John Jeremiah Sullivan
'I see how we are all the same, that none of us are white women or black men; rather, we're a series of mouths, and that every mouth needs filling: with something wet or dry, like love, or unfamiliar and savory, like love'
This is an extraordinary, complex portrait of 'white girls,' an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures more diverse than you might think. With blazing intelligence and insight, Als travels through the last decades of the twentieth century, from Flannery O'Connor's rural South, through Michael Jackson in the Motown years, to Jean Michel Basquiat and the AIDS epidemic in nineties New York, in order to unravel the tangled notions of sexual and racial identity that have led us to where we are today. White Girls is one of the most provocative and original books about the culture of our time.
One summer afternoon A.J.A. Symons is handed a peculiar novel called Hadrian the Seventh and, captivated by this forgotten masterpiece, determines to learn everything he can about its mysterious author. Symons proceeds as a detective might, investigating leads, collecting evidence and corresponding with witnesses. The object of his search is Frederick Rolfe, the self-appointed Baron Corvo - artist, rejected candidate for priesthood and author of serially autobiographical fictions - and its story is told in The Quest for Corvo: a dazzling portrait of an insoluble tangle of talents, frustrated ambitions, arrogance and paranoia.
The book, which reads with all the excitement of detective fiction, is at once a literary pilgrimage and reflection on the obsessions and deceptions which lie at the heart of biography.
'Some of the more heart-shaking writing about love and grief I've ever read' Kamila Shamsie, from the introduction
Meatless Days is a searing memoir of life in the newly-created country of Pakistan. When sudden and shocking tragedies hit the author's family two years apart, her personal crisis spirals into a wider meditation on universal questions: about being a woman when you're too busy being a mother or a sister or a wife to consider your own womanhood; about how it feels to begin life in a new language; about how our lives are changed by the people that leave them. This is a heart-breaking, hopeful and profound book that will get under your skin.
'I was wowed and moved' Tracy Chevalier
Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings - virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.
Take Courage is Samantha's personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time - and her more celebrated siblings - and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.
The final work of Nobel Prize-winning writer Günter Grass – a witty and elegiac series of meditations on writing, growing old, and the world.
Suddenly, in spite of the trials of old age, and with the end in sight, everything seems possible again: love letters, soliloquies, scenes of jealousy, swan songs, social satire, and moments of happiness.
Only an ageing artist who had once more cheated death could get to work with such wisdom, defiance and wit. A wealth of touching stories is condensed into artful miniatures. In a striking interplay of poetry, lyric prose and drawings, Grass creates his final, major work of art.
A moving farewell gift, a sensual, melancholy summation of a life fully lived.
The young naturalist W. N. P. Barbellion described this remarkably candid record of living with multiple sclerosis as 'a study in the nude'. It begins as an ambitious teenager's notes on the natural world, and then, following his diagnosis at the age of twenty-six, transforms into a deeply moving account of battling the disease. His prose is full of humour and fierce intelligence, and combines a passion for life with clear-sighted reflections on the nature of death.
Barbellion selected and edited this manuscript himself in 1917, adding a fictional editor's note announcing his own demise. This Penguin Classics edition includes 'The Last Diary', which covers the period between submission of the manuscript and Barbellion's actual death in 1919.
THE SUNDAY TIMES LITERATURE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
Over a career spanning nearly fifty years Edward Garnett – editor, critic and publisher’s reader – would become one of the most influential men in twentieth-century British literature. Famed for his incisive criticism and unwavering conviction in matters of taste, Garnett was responsible for spotting and nurturing the talents of a constellation of our greatest writers.
In The Uncommon Reader Helen Smith brings to life Garnett’s fascinating, often stormy, relationships with those writers – from Joseph Conrad to John Galsworthy, D.H. Lawrence to T.E. Lawrence, Henry Green to Edward Thomas. All turned to Garnett for advice and guidance at critical moments in their careers, and their letters and diaries offer an insight into their creative processes, their hopes and fears.
Addressing questions of culture, fame and success, this absorbing portrait of a man who shaped the literary landscape as we know it asks us to consider genius – what it is, where it comes from and to whom it belongs.
Published here for the first time, this remarkable cache of letters reveals the great love story of Mary Wesley's life.
‘They met by chance in the Palm Court of the Ritz Hotel on the evening of 26 October 1944. By the time she eventually caught the train back to Penzance two days later they had fallen in love and Eric had declared that he was determined to marry her…’
Before her death in 2002, Mary Wesley told her biographer Patrick Marnham: ‘after I met Eric I never looked at anyone else again. We lived our ups and downs but life was never boring.’ Eric Siepmann was her second husband and their correspondence – lively, intimate, passionate, frustrated – charted their life together (and apart) with unusual candour and spirit.
Marnham suggests that through these letters Mary, who famously blossomed as a novelist in her seventies, a decade after Eric's death, found her voice. Bequeathed to Marnham in two size-5 shoeboxes, this is one of the great surviving post-war correspondences.
‘With you I can become the person I really am – and bearing the grave in mind be buried as such. Dear love consider yourself kissed’
Mary, 30 October 1944
‘I find you brave and amusing, understanding and beautiful, simple and sophisticated, and I love you. More than that, I mean to get you’
Eric, 5 December 1944
Jonathan Swift was a man of contradictions: a man who satirized the powerful but aspired to political greatness, who mocked men's vanity but held himself in high esteem, a religious moralizer famed for his malice - a man sharply aware of humanity's flaws, but no less susceptible to them.
As with his acclaimed biography of John Donne, John Stubbs paints a vivid portrait of an extraordinary man and a turbulent period of English and Irish history.
WINNER OF THE SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARD
Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, Spectator and Observer
Angela Carter’s life was as unconventional as anything in her fiction. Through her fearlessly original and inventive books, including The Bloody Chamber and Nights at the Circus, she became an icon to a generation and one of the most acclaimed English writers of the last hundred years. This is her first full and authorised biography.
Edmund Gordon uncovers Carter’s life story – from a young woman trying to write in a tiny bedsit in Tokyo, to one of the most important and daring writers of her day. From a life full of adventure sprang work so fantastic, dazzling and seductive that it permanently changed and reinvigorated British literature. This is the story of how Angela Carter invented herself.
'An exemplary piece of work... Everyone should read it' Spectator
'A sweet, filthy peach of a memoir from a cultural explosion of a man.'
Born in the mid-twentieth century and raised in the heart of conservative North Carolina, Armistead Maupin lost his virginity to another man “on the very spot where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.” Realizing that the South was too small for him, this son of a traditional lawyer packed his earthly belongings into his Opel GT (including a beloved portrait of a Confederate ancestor), and took to the road in search of adventure. It was a journey that would lead him from a homoerotic Navy initiation ceremony in the jungles of Vietnam to that strangest of strange lands: San Francisco in the early 1970s.
Reflecting on the profound impact those closest to him have had on his life, Maupin shares his candid search for his “logical family,” the people he could call his own. "Sooner or later, we have to venture beyond our biological family to find our logical one, the one that actually makes sense for us,” he writes. “We have to, if we are to live without squandering our lives." From his loving relationship with his palm-reading Grannie who insisted Maupin was the reincarnation of her artistic bachelor cousin, Curtis, to an awkward conversation about girls with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, Maupin tells of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century.
Maupin recalls his losses and life-changing experiences with humor and unflinching honesty, and brings to life flesh-and-blood characters as endearing and unforgettable as the vivid, fraught men and women who populate his enchanting novels. What emerges is an illuminating portrait of the man who depicted the liberation and evolution of America’s queer community over the last four decades with honesty and compassion—and inspired millions to claim their own lives.