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For a decade, beginning in 1660, an ambitious young London civil servant kept an astonishingly candid account of his life during one of the most defining periods in British history. In Samuel Pepys, Claire Tomalin offers us a fully realized and richly nuanced portrait of this man, whose inadvertent masterpiece would establish him as the greatest diarist in the English language.
Against the backdrop of plague, civil war, and regicide, with John Milton composing diplomatic correspondence for Oliver Cromwell, Christopher Wren drawing up plans to rebuild London, and Isaac Newton advancing the empirical study of the world around us, Tomalin weaves a breathtaking account of a figure who has passed on to us much of what we know about seventeenth-century London. We witness Pepys’s early life and education, see him advising King Charles II before running to watch the great fire consume…[more]
When Ellen Ternan met Charles Dickens, she was 18 and he was 45. She was a hard-working actress in a society that equated her profession with prostitution, or something close to it. Dickens was the most lionized writer in England, the great bard of domestic virtue. Out of their meeting came a love affair that lasted thirteen years and destroyed Dickens’ marriage while effacing Nelly Ternan from the public record. In this tour de force of scholarly reconstruction, the acclaimed biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft and Katherine Mansfield rescues Nelly from the shadows of history and creates a deeply compassionate work that encompasses all those women who were exiled from the warm, well-lighted parlors of Victorian England.
The tumultuous life of England’s greatest novelist, beautifully rendered by unparalleled literary biographer Claire Tomalin.
When Charles Dickens died in 1870, The Times of London successfully campaigned for his burial in Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of England’s kings and heroes. Thousands flocked to mourn the best recognized and loved man of nineteenth-century England. His books had made them laugh, shown them the squalor and greed of English life, and also the power of personal virtue and the strength of ordinary people. In his last years Dickens drew adoring crowds to his public appearances, had met presidents and princes, and had amassed a fortune.
Like a hero from his novels, Dickens trod a hard path to greatness. Born into a modest middle-class family, his young…[more]
The novels of Thomas Hardy have a permanent place on every booklover’s shelf, yet little is known about the interior life of the man who wrote them. A believer and an unbeliever, a socialist and a snob, an unhappy husband and a desolate widower, Hardy challenged the sexual and religious conventions of his time in his novels and then abandoned fiction to reestablish himself as a great twentieth-century lyric poet. In this acclaimed new biography, Claire Tomalin, one of today’s preeminent literary biographers, investigates this beloved writer and reveals a figure as rich and complex as his tremendous legacy.