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.
Readers very often ask writers, ‘how did your writing life begin?’ In this short memoir, Rose tries to answer that question, buried somewhere in a complex childhood, which was both materially privileged and emotionally impoverished.
Growing up in post-war London, a city still partly in ruins, with a society constrained to fierce austerity because of rationing, the girl known then as ‘Rosie’ and her sister Jo long perpetually for the refuge of their grandparents Hampshire farm, where the food is plentiful and the landscape serene. They believe that this place will be ‘theirs’ forever, and that their lives will go on in an untroubled way.
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. At a cold boarding-school in Hertfordshire, they feel like castaways.
Rose Tremain casts a revealing light on the ‘vanished’ world of the 1940s and 1950s in England and describes the slow journey from being Rosie, the outcast girl, to becoming Rose, the writer of powerful fictions that have won worldwide acclaim.
'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.
‘As a writer, Carrère is straight berserk’ Junot Díaz
In this non-fiction novel – road trip, confession, and erotic tour de force – Emmanuel Carrère pursues two consuming obsessions: the disappearance of his grandfather amid suspicions that he was a Nazi collaborator in the Second World War; and a violently passionate affair with a woman that he loves but which ends in destruction. Moving between Paris and Kotelnich, a grisly post-Soviet town, Carrère weaves his story into a travelogue of a journey inward, travelling fearlessly into the depths of his tortured psyche.
'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.
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.
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.
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
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
The long-awaited portrait of a literary master from one of our generation's greatest biographers, author of the definitive and acclaimed Matisse: The Life
Anthony Powell: the literary genius who gave us A Dance to the Music of Time, an undisputed classic of English literature. Spanning twelve spectacular volumes and written over twenty-five years, his comic masterpiece teems with idiosyncratic characters, capturing twentieth century Britain through war and peace.
Drawing on Powell's letters and journals, and the memories of those who knew him, Hilary Spurling explores his life. Investigating the friends, relations, lovers, acquaintances, fools and geniuses who surrounded him, she reveals the comical and tragic events that inspired one of the greatest fictions of the age.
Discover Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series, available in paperback and e-book from Arrow.
'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.
'A passionate, hilarious, joyful love letter to Russian literature' Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph
Viv Groskop has discovered the meaning of life in Russian literature. As she knows from personal experience, everything that has ever happened in life has already happened in these novels: from not being sure what to do with your life (Anna Karenina) to being in love with someone who doesn't love you back enough (A Month in the Country by Turgenev) or being socially anxious about your appearance (all of Chekhov's work). This is a literary self-help memoir, with examples from the author's own life that reflect the lessons of literature, only in a much less poetic way than Tolstoy probably intended, and with an emphasis on being excessively paranoid about having an emerging moustache on your upper lip, just like Natasha in War and Peace.
A Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller
As one of the best biographers of her generation, Claire Tomalin has written about great novelists and poets to huge success: now, she turns to look at her own life.
This enthralling memoir follows her through triumph and tragedy in about equal measure, from the disastrous marriage of her parents and the often difficult wartime childhood that followed, to her own marriage to the brilliant young journalist Nicholas Tomalin. When he was killed on assignment as a war correspondent she was left to bring up their four children - and at the same time make her own career.
She writes of the intense joys of a fascinating progression as she became one of the most successful literary editors in London before discovering her true vocation as a biographer, alongside overwhelming grief at the loss of a child.
Writing with the élan and insight which characterize her biographies, Claire Tomalin sets her own life in a wider cultural and political context, vividly and frankly portraying the social pressures on a woman in the Fifties and Sixties, and showing 'how it was for a European girl growing up in mid-twentieth-century England ... carried along by conflicting desires to have children and a worthwhile working life.'
Kathy Acker: Rich girl, street punk, scholar, stripper, victim, media-whore ... and cultural icon.
The late Kathy Acker's legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, many of them created by her. Twenty years after her untimely death aged just 50, Acker's legend has faded, but her writing has become clearer.
A few years ago, the writer Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick, found that her own experiences were becoming more and more like Kathy's. She began writing about Acker 'through the distance, but with this incredible frisson of feeling that often I could write "I" instead of "she."'
This is 'literary friction': The first fully authorised biography of the avant-garde writer Kathy Acker, by the woman who arrived on the scene straight after her, who shared some of her boyfriends and friends, and her artistic ambitions
Using exhaustive archival research and ongoing conversations with mutual colleagues and friends, Kraus traces the woman behind the notorious novels, and places her at the centre of a kaleidoscopic artistic world.
'The path of the female artist. Is hell.
Chris Kraus's veracious and intricately structured portrait rouses and stirs as it documents in meticulous and fascinating detail the life, work and body of Kathy Acker and what it takes to a become a 'great writer as countercultural hero.' Viv Albertine
'This is a gossipy, anti-mythic artist biography which feels like it's being told in one long rush of a monologue over late-night drinks by someone who was there.' Sheila Heti
'An extraordinary book ... exceptionally fascinating, always readable and penetratingly intelligent' David Abulafia
'As rich, funny and teemingly peopled as Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time ... Dinshaw writes with wit and elegance, and the most elegiac passages of Outlandish Knight evoke a lost society London and way of life' Ben Judah, Financial Times
'This dazzling young writer is a mine of fascinating, memorable and totally useless information... I have been riveted by this book from start to finish, and leave the reader with one word of advice. Watch Minoo Dinshaw. He will go far' John Julius Norwich, Sunday Telegraph
The biography of one of the greatest British historians - but also of a uniquely strange and various man
In his enormously long life, Steven Runciman managed not just to be a great historian of the Crusades and Byzantium, but Grand Orator of the Orthodox Church, a member of the Order of Whirling Dervishes, Greek Astronomer Royal and Laird of Eigg. His friendships, curiosities and intrigues entangled him in a huge array of different artistic movements, civil wars, Cold War betrayals and, above all, the rediscovery of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean. He was as happy living in a remote part of the Inner Hebrides as in the heart of Istanbul. He was obsessed with historical truth, but also with tarot, second sight, ghosts and the uncanny.
Outlandish Knight is a dazzling debut by a writer who has prodigious gifts, but who also has had the ability to spot one of the great biographical subjects. This is an extremely funny book about a man who attracted the strangest experiences, but also a very serious one. It is about the rigours of a life spent in the distant past, but also about the turbulent world of the twentieth century, where so much that Runciman studied and cherished would be destroyed.
Sink beneath the covers and dip into the hilarious Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Marian Keyes' life . . .
'Let's get one thing straight: I'm not an outdoorsy type. If I was offered the choice between white-water rafting and being savaged by a rabid dog, I'd be likely to tick the box marked "dog".'
Under the Duvet the Deluxe Edition* brings together the first two volumes of Marian Keyes' unputdownable and utterly delectable journalism. Whether its shopping, travel, feminism or fashion, Marian takes us on a riotous anecdote-packed journey into her weird and wonderful world. There are adventures with fake tan, love affairs with shoes and nail varnish, and, as a special treat, she includes seven of her hard-to-find (and, she tells us, harder to write) short stories. It's the perfect bed-time companion.
'Everything this woman touches turns into comic gold' Cosmopolitan
'A poet of the everyday . . . noticing everything about everything, rendering situations instantly recognisable and funny' Wendy Holden, Daily Mail
'A must-read for all. Keye's funny and poignant tales will have you chuckling in your train seat' Heat
* Includes Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet