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.
When this second volume of The Life of Saul Bellow opens, Bellow, at forty-nine, is at the pinnacle of American letters – rich, famous, critically acclaimed. The expected trajectory is one of decline: volume 1, rise; volume 2, fall. Bellow never fell, producing some of his greatest fiction (Mr Sammler’s Planet, Humboldt’s Gift, all his best stories), winning two more National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize. At eighty, he wrote his last story; at eighty-five, he wrote Ravelstein. In this volume, his life away from the desk, including his love life, is if anything more dramatic than in volume 1. In the public sphere, he is embroiled in controversy over foreign affairs, race, religion, education, social policy, the state of culture, the fate of the novel.
Bellow’s relations with women were often fraught. In the 1960s he was compulsively promiscuous (even as he inveighed against sexual liberation). The women he pursued, the ones he married and those with whom he had affairs, were intelligent, attractive and strong-willed. At eighty-five he fathered his fourth child, a daughter, with his fifth wife. His three sons, whom he loved, could be as volatile as he was, and their relations with their father were often troubled.
Although an early and engaged supporter of civil rights, in the second half of his life Bellow was angered by the excesses of Black Power. An opponent of cultural relativism, he exercised great influence in literary and intellectual circles, advising a host of institutes and foundations, helping those he approved of, hindering those of whom he disapproved. In making his case, he could be cutting and rude; he could also be charming, loyal, and funny. Bellow’s heroic energy and will are clear to the very end of his life. His immense achievement and its cost, to himself and others, are also clear.
'A father...is a necessary evil.' Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses
In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Colm Tóibín turns his incisive gaze to three of Ireland's greatest writers, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce, and their earliest influences: their fathers. From Wilde's doctor father, a brilliant statistician and amateur archaeologist, who was taken to court by an obsessed lover in a strange premonition of what would happen to his son; to Yeats' father, an impoverished artist and brilliant letter-writer who could never finish apainting; to John Stanislus Joyce, a singer, drinker and story-teller, a man unwilling to provide for his large family, whom his son James memorialised in his work.
Colm Tóibín illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers, but also illustrates the surprising ways they surface in their work.
What makes one of the most gifted, charismatic and successful young literary agents in New York fall into full-blown crack-addiction: a collapse that would cost him his business, his home, many of his friends and - very nearly - his life? In his utterly compulsive narrative, Bill Clegg leads us through the grimiest back-rooms of Manhattan's underbelly, through scenes of blank-eyed sex and squalor, into the febrile paranoia of a mind gone out of control.
Ninety Days begins where Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man ends - and tells the wrenching story of Bill Clegg's battle to reclaim his life. The goal is ninety: just ninety clean and sober days to loosen the hold of the addiction. But as any recovering addict knows, hitting rock bottom is just the beginning. . .
Published for the first time in one volume: Bill Clegg's unflinching account of the addiction that nearly ended everything.
Flush was an English cocker spaniel who belonged to the nineteenth-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Virginia Woolf learned of him from the love letters Elizabeth wrote to her future husband, fellow poet Robert Browning, and found ‘the figure of their dog made me laugh so, I couldn't resist making him a Life.’ The resulting ‘biography’ combines sensuous imaginative description with sharp social comment, and brings Woolf’s unsentimental humour and insight to the fore. We see Flush as loyal confidant to Elizabeth on her sickbed at Wimpole Street, and from his jealous perspective we witness her courtship by Browning, their elopement and new life in Italy. The perfect accessible introduction to Woolf’s genius, a unique blend of fact and fiction, Flush is perhaps best read in the company of a canine companion.
This edition includes the four original illustrations by Vanessa Bell and an afterword by Margaret Forster.
Cover designed by the award-winning Finnish designer Aino-Maija Metsola
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.'
'A deeply intelligent and searching book, one that makes you re-consider the narrative of your own life and reframe the story you tell yourself' Hilary Mantel
"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 ... why had it never occurred to me to take up this problem in a book?"
Returning to Reims is a breathtaking account of one man's return to the town where he grew up after an absence of thirty years. It is a frank, fearlessly personal story of family, memory, identity and time lost. But it is also a sociologist's view of what itmeans to grow up working class and then leave that class; of inequality and shifting political allegiances in an increasingly divided nation. A phenomenon in France and a huge bestseller in Germany, Didier Eribon has written the defining memoir of our times.
'I was overwhelmed by this book. I felt I was reading the story of my life.'Edouard Louis, author of The End of Eddy
'A book about self-invention and belonging' -Colm Toibin
'A deeply intelligent and searching book, one that makes you re-consider the narrative of your own life and reframe the story you tell yourself... Didier Eribon understands how deep the roots of inequality go' Hilary Mantel
'A major literary talent . . . speaks about the power and powerlessness that young women are subject to in a wholly fresh, clear-eyed way . . . you'll find it hard to come away from The Terrible without a stab of recognition in your chest' Stylist
'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 and her little brother who sees things written in the stars.
It's also about growing up and discovering the power and fear of sexuality, about pitch grey days of pills and powder: going under, losing yourself, and finding your voice.
'Yrsa's work is like holding the truth in your hands' Florence Welch
'Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh's warmth and humanity. Essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over' John le Carré
In the early 1950s, teenage Seymour Hersh was finishing high school and university - while running the family's struggling dry cleaning store in a Southside Chicago ghetto. Today, he is one of America's premier investigative journalists, whose fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every newspaper in the world, a staggering collection of awards, and no small amount of controversy.
Reporter is the story of how he did it. It is a story of slog, ingenuity and defiance, following Hersh from his first job as a crime reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau, through his Pulitzer Prize-winning freelance investigative exposes, to the heights of his reporting for The New York Times and the New Yorker. It is a tale of night-time encounters with great Civil Rights leaders, unauthorised meetings with Pentagon officials, raucous dinners with Canadian soldiers in Hanoi, tense phone calls with Secretaries of State, desperate to save face; of exposing myriad military and political wrongdoing, from My Lai to Watergate to Abu Ghraib, and the cynical cover-ups that followed in Washington and New York. Here too are unforgettable encounters with some of the most formidable figures from recent decades, from Saul Bellow to Martin Luther King Jr., from Henry Kissinger to Bashar al-Assad.
Ultimately, in unfurling Seymour Hersh's life and career, Reporter tells a story of twentieth-century America, in all its excitement and darkness.
Tom Wolfe's genre-defining ride through the 1960s published in Vintage Classics for the first time to mark its fiftieth anniversary
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JARVIS COCKER
In the summer of 1964, author Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters set out on a trip like no other. Blazing across America in their day-glo schoolbus, doped up and deep ‘in the pudding’, the Pranksters’ arrival on the scene – anarchic, exuberant and acid-infused – would turn on an entire counter-culture, and provide Tom Wolfe with the perfect free-wheeling subject for this, his pioneering masterpiece of New Journalism.
'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book...the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter' New York Times
In 1918, the RAF was established as the world's first independent air force. To mark the 100th anniversary of its creation, Penguin are publishing the Centenary Collection, a series of six classic books highlighting the skill, heroism esprit de corps that have characterised the Royal Air Force throughout its first century.
'They didn't think for one moment that they would find anything but a burnt-out fuselage and a charred skeleton; and they were apparently astounded when they came upon my still-breathing body, lying in the sand near by.'
In 1938 Roald Dahl was fresh out of school and bound for his first job in Africa, hoping to find adventure far from home. However, he got far more excitement than he bargained for when the outbreak of the Second World War led him to join the RAF. His account of his experiences in Africa, crashing a plane in the Western Desert, rescue and recovery from his horrific injuries in Alexandria, and many other daring deeds, recreates a world as bizarre and unnerving as any he wrote about in his fiction.
The Centenary Collection:
1. The Last Enemy by Richard Hillary
2. Tumult in the Clouds by James Goodson
3. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
4. First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
5. Tornado Down by John Peters & John Nichol
6. Immediate Response by Mark Hammond
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.
An indelible portrait of one of the most famous and beloved authors in the canon of American literature – a collection of letters between Harper Lee and one of her closest friends that reveals the famously private writer as never before, in her own words.
The violent racism of the American South drove Wayne Flynt away from his home in Alabama, but the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel about courage, community and equality, inspired him to return in the early 1960s and craft a career documenting and teaching Alabama history. His writing resonated with many, in particular three sisters: Louise, Alice and Nelle Harper Lee. The two families first met in 1983, and a mutual respect and affection for the state’s history and literature matured into a deep friendship between them.
Wayne Flynt and Nelle Harper Lee began writing to one other while she was living in New York – heartfelt, insightful and humorous letters in which they swapped stories, information and opinions on topics including their families, books, social values, health concerns and even their fears and accomplishments. Though their earliest missives began formally – ‘Dear Dr Flynt’ – as the years passed, their exchanges became more intimate and emotional, opening with ‘Dear Friend’ and closing with ‘I love you, Nelle.’
This is a remarkable compendium of a correspondence that lasted for a quarter century – until Harper Lee’s death in February 2016 – and it offers an incisive and compelling look into the mind, heart and work of one of the most beloved authors in modern literary history.
*The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller*
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.