Annal: 1999 Whitbread Book Award for Biography

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 1999.

Book:Berlioz: Volume 2. Servitude and Greatness, 1832-1869

Berlioz: Volume 2. Servitude and Greatness, 1832-1869

David Cairns

This biography of composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) describes with unprecedented intimacy, affection, and respect the life of one of France’s greatest artists. After long being regarded as an oddity and an eccentric figure, Berlioz is now being accepted into the ranks of the great composers. Based on a wealth of previously unpublished sources, and on a profound understanding of the humanity of his subject, David Cairns’s book provides a full account of this extraordinary and powerfully attractive man.

Volume II follows Berlioz’s life from 1832 to his death in 1869, his most active years as a composer, conductor, and critic. This volume provides telling portraits of those close to Berlioz: his two wives, his son and his sisters, his friends and colleagues, fellow composers and critics. Cairns vividly evokes Berlioz’s music and the music-making world of nineteenth-century Paris. Volume II also includes chapters on Wagner, Berlioz’s career as a critic, the composer’s concert tours in Germany, Russia, and England, and much more.

Book:Bruce Chatwin: A Biography

Bruce Chatwin: A Biography

Nicholas Shakespeare

Award-winning novelist Nicholas Shakespeare has written the definitive biography of one of the most influential literary figures of our time: Bruce Chatwin, whose works’ strangely compelling combination of research, first-hand experience, myth, and mystification may have been the real substance of his seemingly contradictory life.

Chatwin’s first book, In Patagonia, became an international bestseller, revived the art of travel writing, and inspired a generation to set out in search of adventure. Chatwin became a celebrity, while remaining a conundrum. With little formal education, he had become a director of Sotheby’s. An avid collector, he eschewed material things and revered the nomadic life. Married for twenty-three years, he had male lovers throughout the world. And only at his death did his personal myth fail him. Nicholas Shakespeare, who was given unrestricted access to his papers, spent eight years retracing Chatwin’s steps and interviewing the people who knew him. The result is a biography that is at once sympathetic and revelatory.

Book:The Unknown Matisse

The Unknown Matisse: Volume 1. The Early Years, 1869-1908

Hilary Spurling

Hilary Spurling presents a thorough and riveting account of Matisse's early life, from his beginnings as the son of shopkeepers in Flanders through his impoverished days as a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Tracing Matisse's life through his thirties, Spurling describes how the artist's stubborn northern temperament helped sustain him through many challenges, both artistic and financial, as he found his way as a painter.

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