Claire Tomalin Coming to Winchester

Acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin is coming to Winchester for an evening talk in January, in celebration of her brand new book ‘A Life of My Own’. Winchester Guildhall welcomes the writer for an evening in conversation with John Miller, in aid of local charity Home Start Winchester.

Claire is an expert at exploring the life and times of great writers, this time she will be discussing her own experiences and the extraordinary career that has lead her to write biographies of the likes of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy.

Charles Dickens : a life / Claire Tomalin
Claire Tomalin paints an unforgettable portrait of Dickens, capturing brilliantly the complex character of this great genius.

The Invisible Woman: the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens / Claire Tomalin.
Claire Tomalin’s story of the life of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens returns the neglected actress to her rightful place in history as well as providing a compelling and truthful portrait of the great Victorian novelist.

Claire’s various works are all available on the library catalogue, including several in eBook format:

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
The unequalled self is the astonishing biography of Samuel Pepys by bestselling author Claire Tomalin

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin
The unequalled self is the astonishing biography of Samuel Pepys by bestselling author Claire Tomalin
2002 WHITBREAD BOOK OF THE YEAR

 

As one of the best biographers of her generation, Tomalin has written about great novelists and poets to huge success: now, she turns to look at her own life in her latest work ‘A Life of My Own‘, providing insights into her biographical writing.

A life of my own / Claire Tomalin
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.

 

As an experienced speaker, academic and broadcaster, as well as an organiser of exhibitions and many public events, the talk promises to be fascinating. Her previous visits to Winchester were all sellouts, so early booking is advised for all those eager to hear one of our great writers talking about her eventful life. The talk will be followed by a book signing.

The event begins at 6:00pm on Saturday 13th January 2018 at The Guildhall Winchester. Tickets are £12 each including the booking fee, and are available online or call 01962 851177.

Spilling the Beans by Clarissa Dixon Wright

About the book

Clarissa was born into wealth and privilege, as a child, shooting and hunting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper. Her mother was an Australian heiress, her father was a brilliant surgeon to the Royal family. But he was also a tyrannical and violent drunk who used to beat her and force her to eat carrots with slugs still clinging to them. Clarissa was determined and clever, though, and her ambition led her to a career in the law. At the age of 21, she was the youngest ever woman to be called to the Bar. Disaster struck when her adored mother died suddenly. It was to lead to a mind-numbing decade of wild over-indulgence. Rich from her inheritance, in the end Clarissa partied away her entire fortune. It was a long, hard road to recovery along which Clarissa finally faced her demons and turned to the one thing that had always brought her joy – cooking. Now at last she has found success, sobriety and peace. With the stark honesty and the brilliant wit we love her for, Clarissa recounts the tale of a life lived to extremes. A vivid and funny story, it is as moving as it is a cracking good read.

 

Reviewed by Sway Library Society

A very interesting biography – an honest account of alcoholism and an amazing life. Enjoyable”

star rating ****

 

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Samuel Pepys by Claire Tomalin

About the book

From the acclaimed author of Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, this celebrated biography casts new light on the remarkable diaries of Pepys and brings his story vividly to life once more.

 

Reviewed by Itchen

This biography of Pepys has been carefully researched and draws on the diary, a collection of letters and various other sources. It is well written and an excellent introduction to the diaries. It also gives a lot of extra information about this influential and entertaining man”

star rating *** ½

 

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Thomas Hardy, the Time-torn Man by Claire Tomalin

About the book

Paradox ruled Thomas Hardy’s life. His birth was almost his death; he became one of the great Victorian novelists and reinvented himself as one of the twentieth-century’s greatest poets; he was an unhappy husband and a desolate widower; he wrote bitter attacks on the English class system yet prized the friendship of aristocrats.

In the hands of Whitbread Award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, author of the bestselling books Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, Thomas Hardy the novelist, poet, neglectful husband and mourning lover all come vividly alive.

 

Reviewed by CC readers

Divided opinion – some found it too long, too detailed and hard to read. Others were strong in their praise for its narrative quality, its detail, insight and human understanding. Most wanted to re-read Hardy as a result. A biographical masterpiece for some readers.”

star rating ***

 

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Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein

About the book

Rick Stein’s childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents’ Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness. When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father’s initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life. Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty.

 

Reviewed by Totton 1

“Very bitty. Material not very well presented. Lots of facts but not very interesting”

star rating **

 

 

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Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett

About the book

An element of drama has always attended Rupert Everett, even before he swept to fame with his outstanding performance in ‘Another Country’. He has spent his life surrounded by extraordinary people, and witnessed extraordinary events. He was in Moscow during the fall of communism; in Berlin the night the wall came down; and in downtown Manhattan on September 11th. By the age of 17 he was friends with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger, and since then he has been up close and personal with some of the most famous women in the world: Julia Roberts, Madonna, Sharon Stone and Donatella Versace. Whether sweeping the floor for the Royal Shakespeare Company or co-starring with Faye Dunaway and an orang-utan in ‘Dunstan Checks In’ (they both took ages to get ready), Rupert Everett always brings as much energy and talent to his life as he does to his career. A superb raconteur and a keen observer of human folly (especially his own), Rupert Everett turns his life into a captivating story of love, fame, glamour, gossip and drama.

Reviewed by Itchen

“This autobiography had a mixed reception. Most felt that it was an ego trip by an actor who needed the support and approval of others but, at the same time, risked disapproval as a result of his lifestyle. His career, although successful, was fuelled by drink, drugs and promiscuity. There was, however considerable sympathy for him, largely because he had been sent away to boarding school at an early age without any preparation, and where he felt himself to be an outsider. An interesting point made by one member was that over the last two decades society has come a long way in accepting gay people. This book brought out much discussion in our group of mainly retired older people. ”

star rating ***

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A Daughter's tale by Mary Soames

About the book

Born in 1922, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Her memoir draws us into the almost surreal world where the ordinary details of family life proceed against a background of cataclysmic events.

Reviewed by CC Readers

This book was enjoyed by all the group. Everyone was captivated by the insight into s warm and loving relationship between Churchill and hiss youngest daughter. We also considered this to have been a valuable and honest historical record of such an important time in our history.

Star rating: ***

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Lemon sherbet and dolly blue by Lynn Knight

About the book

It is said that you can’t choose your relatives but some of Lynn Knight‘s family did. Three generations were adopted, and adopted in three distinct ways. ‘Lemon Sherbet and Dolly Blue’ tells their extraordinary story.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

Told through the eyes of her family and gives a very good account of social history. Perhaps a little too long?

Star rating: ***

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Stuart: a Life Backwards by Alexander Masters

About the book

In this extraordinary book, Alexander Masters has created a moving portrait of a troubled man, an unlikely friendship, and a desperate world few ever see. A gripping who-done-it journey back in time, it begins with Masters meeting a drunken Stuart lying on a sidewalk in Cambridge, England, and leads through layers of hell…back through crimes and misdemeanors, prison and homelessness, suicide attempts, violence, drugs, juvenile halls and special schools–to expose the smiling, gregarious thirteen-year-old boy who was Stuart before his long, sprawling, dangerous fall.
Shocking, inspiring, and hilarious by turns, Stuart: A Life Backwards is a writer’s quest to give voice to a man who, beneath his forbidding exterior, has a message for us all: that every life–even the most chaotic and disreputable–is a story worthy of being told.

Reviewed by King’s Somborne Reading Group:

Our one word descriptions of this book included: frightening, miserable, inevitable, challenging, injustice and friendship. Very much an eye opener on the system and the majority of our group rated Master’s handling of the biography very highly indeed – the highest score we’ve ever given to a book in our 11 years or more.

Star rating: ****

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The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus by S Marlowe

About the book

Christopher Columbus was born aboard a boat to Italy as his New Christian, formerly Jewish, parents fled pre-Inquisition Spain. Orphaned by age twelve, Columbus and his two brothers become members of the household of Roderigo Cardinal Borgia. Forced to flee Italy a few years later because of a bizarre contract on his life, Columbus turns to the sea. At the Portuguese Observatory of Prince Henry the Navigator, Columbus absorbs the most advanced geographical and navigational knowledge of his day. He spends the next ten years sailing between England and Iceland, and even attempts to rediscover Greenland.
The seeds of Columbus’ desire to sail the western route to India are already sown when, in 1479, he returns to Lisbon and a reunion with his older brother Bartolome. Columbus marries, fathers a son, voyages to Africa, and is widowed. He never remarries, although he fathers a second child. Meanwhile, he and Bartolome continually seek financing for exploration. Failing to sell their ideas to the king of Portugal, Columbus eventually enters the employment of Spain’s monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. After thirteen years of effort, politics and fortuitous friendships finally unite for a common purpose. In 1492, Columbus embarks, at last, on his “Great Venture.”
The success of his first voyage makes Columbus a legend in his own time. He spends his remaining years trying, with great difficulty, to live up to the legend. He makes three more voyages to the New World but is plagued by detractors, mutinous soldiers and colonists, the Inquisition, financial problems, and chronic poor health. He dies in Spain on May 20, 1506.
Stephen Marlowe has developed a unique approach to historical fiction. His Christopher Columbus seems to be a resident of the twentieth century recounting his fifteenth century adventures with “twenty-twenty hindsight.” With wit, wisdom, and remarkable detail, Marlowe unfolds Columbus’ colorful history as no traditional biography has done, changing details to suite his fictional purpose, but still leaving the reader with great admiration for the genius, charisma, and basic humanity of the man who discovered America.

Reviewed by Anton Bookies Reading Group:

The group was evenly divided about this book. Half found it an unusual, clever and interesting way of presenting a biography and really enjoyed it (although all agreed the latter part of the book was overlong and overcomplicated). The other half of the group found it difficult to ‘get into’ the book and would have preferred a conventional biography.
Star rating: ***

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