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He was a brilliant teller of tales, one of the most widely read authors of the twentieth century, and at one time the most famous writer in the world, yet W. Somerset Maugham’s own true story has never been fully told. At last, the truth is revealed in a landmark biography by the award-winning writer Selina Hastings. Granted unprecedented access to Maugham’s personal correspondence and to newly uncovered interviews with his only child, Hastings portrays the secret loves, betrayals, integrity, and passion that inspired Maugham to create such classics as The Razor’s Edge and Of Human Bondage. Portrayed in full for the first time is Maugham’s disastrous marriage to Syrie Wellcome, a manipulative society woman who trapped Maugham with a pregnancy and an attempted suicide. Hastings also explores Maugham’s many affairs with men, including his great love, Gerald Haxton, an alcoholic charmer. Maugham’s work in secret intelligence during two world wars is described in fascinating detail—experiences that provided the inspiration for the groundbreaking Ashenden stories. From the West End to Broadway, from China to the South Pacific, Maugham’s remarkably productive life is thrillingly recounted as Hastings uncovers the real stories behind such classics as Rain, The Painted Veil, Cakes & Ale, and other well-known tales.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon Garfield The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty-eight years ago, Harry Houdini’s life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy. The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame—his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend.
The new book from the critically acclaimed author of The Wives and ?Sophia Tolstoy sheds light on one of the strangest and most unusual relationships in literary history—which has been steeped in secrecy for more than a century. On the snowy morning of February 8, 1897, the Petersburg secret police were following Tolstoy's every move. At sixty-nine, Russia's most celebrated writer was being treated like a major criminal. Prominent Russians were always watched, but Tolstoy earned particular scrutiny. Over a decade earlier, when his advocacy on behalf of oppressed minorities angered the Orthodox Church and the Tsar, he was placed under permanent police surveillance. Although Tolstoy was wearing his peasant garb, people on the streets had no trouble recognizing him from his portraits. He was often seen in the company of his chief disciple, Vladimir Chertkov. A man of striking appearance, twenty-five years younger, Chertkov commanded attention. His photographs with Tolstoy show him towering over the writer, but who exactly was this imposing man? Close to the Tsars and to the chief of the secret police, Chertkov represented the very things Tolstoy had renounced ––class privilege, unlimited power, and wealth. Yet, Chertkov fascinated and attracted Tolstoy. He became the writer's closest confidant, even reading his daily diary, and by the end of Tolstoy's life, Chertkov had established complete control over the writer and his legacy. Tolstoy’s full exchange with Chertkov comprises more than 2,000 letters, making him the writer’s largest correspondent. The Russian archives have suppressed much of this communication as well as Chertkov’s papers for more than a century. The product of ground-breaking archival research, Tolstoy's False Disciple promises to be a revelatory portrait of the two men and their three-decade-long clandestine relationship.
Nancy Mitford’s life was as glamorous and as dramatic as her most famous novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. Mitford was witty, intelligent, often acerbic, a great tease, and an acute observer of upper-class English idiosyncrasies. With the publication of her comic novels, based in part on her eccentric family, she became a huge bestseller and household name. An inspired letter writer, she wrote almost daily to a wide variety of correspondents, among them Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, John Betjeman, and, of course, her famous sisters. Noted biographer Selina Hastings captures the gaiety and frivolity as well as the unhappy truth of Nancy Mitford’s life: her failed marriage and her long, unfulfilled relationship with her dashing but unfaithful French lover contrasting sharply with literary celebrity and glittering social success. Hastings has written a biography that is as superbly entertaining and clear-eyed as the unforgettable novels that are its subject’s lasting claim to fame.
In studying performances of marriage in modern and contemporary British and American drama, Clum highlights the fact that - paradoxically - at a time when theatre was both popular entertainment and high culture, many of the most commercially and artistically successful plays about marriage were written by homosexual men. Beginning with Oscar Wilde and focusing on some of the most successful British and American playwrights of the past century, including Somerset Maugham, Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, and Emlyn Williams in England and Clyde Fitch, George Kelly, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Edward Albee in the US, The Drama of Marriagelooks at how the plays they wrote about heterosexual marriage continue to impact contemporary gay playwrights and the depiction of marriage today.
Treasures of Time is the twelfth novel by Booker Prize winning author Penelope Lively, a spellbinding story of the dangers of digging up the dark secrets of the past. This edition features an introduction by Selina Hastings. Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling. Penelope Lively's Treasures of Time was published in 1979, and is an acutely observed study of marriage and manipulation. When the BBC want to make a documentary about acclaimed archaeologist Hugh Paxton, his widow Laura, daughter Kate and her fiancé Tom are a little nervous: digging up the past can also disturb the present . . . Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short-story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her other books include Going Back; Judgement Day; Next to Nature, Art; Perfect Happiness; Passing On; City of the Mind; Cleopatra's Sister; Heat Wave; Beyond the Blue Mountains, a collection of short stories; Oleander, Jacaranda, a memoir of her childhood days in Egypt; Spiderweb; her autobiographical work, A House Unlocked; The Photograph; Making It Up; Consequences; Family Album, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Novel Award, and How It All Began. She is a popular writer for children and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Award. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours List, and DBE in 2012. Penelope Lively lives in London.

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