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Who was this heroic Victorian campaigner, this secular saint who, as "the lady of the lamp", became a living legend? This revealing biographical guide looks at Florence Nightingale – the tireless, far-sighted and often cantankerous reformer who lies beyond the myth: at her youth, her time in the Crimea and her later career, using primary sources including extracts from her prolific letters and illustrated with her own artefacts and possessions.

Lord Louis Mountbatten achieved great things both in war and peace as a military leader and public servant. The First World War and its aftermath shaped his early life, in mid-career he was a victorious commander in the Second World War, and when peace came he brought independence to India and Pakistan. Mountbatten remains a controversial figure, but when his faults are considered in the light of the world-shaking events in which he was involved, they are overwhelmingly outweighed by his achievements. His murder, and those of members of his family and a friend, on 27 August 1979 by the IRA shocked the world.

Thomas Edward Lawrence, more popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, is remembered today more for his immortalization on stage and screen rather than for his dramatic exploits in the Middle East during the First World War. This book shines a light on his military achievements, his major campaigns and the impact that his influence had on shaping the war in the Middle East. Lawrence quickly rose to prominence following the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in 1916. His skills in Arab languages helped him co-ordinate Navy support in an effort to regain captured coastal ports, whilst gathering widespread local support and building up the Arab Northern Army. He pioneered new tactics, which would shape British strategy four decades later, recognising the importance of aircraft, mobile artillery and armour in desert warfare. In two short years the obscure staff officer had attained the rank of full colonel and helped to shape the outcome of the war in the Middle East.

Simon Bolivar was the archetypal romantic revolutionary. Born into privilege and nurtured in the Rousseau's philosophy of the Homme Sauvage, it was not until the young colonial visited Europe that the taper of revolution was lit that sent the young man on a death-defying quest to fight for the people of his homeland, and eventually liberate the whole of continental South America. Bolivar's struggle for liberty is a story of extraordinary courage and fortune. Since the age of the Conquistadores, South America was controlled from Spain with an iron grip. The Spanish army brutalised the people while the wealth of the continent was shipped away to Europe. In 1807, he returned to Caracas and joined the resistance movement, declaring independence for Venezuela four years later. He soon gave up politics, however, to search for a military solution, devising the 'Decree of War until Death' in July 1813, and claiming the title El Liberador. Yet once again, after initial victories he found himself fleeing for his life. His final campaign from 1817 to 1821 saw the eventual liberation of Venezuela, Columbia, Equador and Panama. He continued his commitment to liberty with the subsequent conquest of Peru. In 1825, the new nation of Bolivia was created in the spirit that had driven Bolivar himself to achieve so much - revolutionary zeal and enlightenment principles. Nonetheless, by 1828 Bolivar had declared himself a dictator. After assassination attempts and uprisings the liberator was finally hounded from office and eventually died as he waited to go into exile in Europe. Bestselling author of "The War of Wars", Robert Harvey bring a lifetime's fascination into Bolivar and explores the complex personality behind the revolutionary. He vividly recreates the story of the campaigns and draws a panoramic portrait of South America at the turning of the Spanish Empire.

When the adventurer Walter Ralegh first encountered Elizabeth I, he supposedly placed his cloak over a puddle and allowed the queen to walk across it. Thus began one of the most intriguing relationships between a monarch and her favourite. "The Favourite" explores the labyrinthine complexity of human emotion, ambition and ritual within the restricted confines of the Tudor court. Was the favourite a Machiavellian schemer who fooled the queen in her affections? Was Elizabeth willing to manipulate her courtier for her own ends? The Queen's affection for Ralegh would protect him but he would soon become the 'most hated man in England'. In "The Favourite", Mathew Lyons reveals a new portrait of an immortal relationship and a fascinating exploration of the many layers of love between Gloriana and Ralegh - courtier, chancer and privateer.

Napoleon Bonaparte is renowned as one of the greatest military commanders in history, and the central figure in so many of the events of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Throughout the first decade of the 19th century he won battle after battle by wielding the Grande Armee decisively against the other powers of Europe - Prussia, Austria and Russia. Yet his fortunes changed in 1812 when the invasion of Russia wrecked his forces, and Napoleon suffered his final defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

Sir Martin Frobisher was one of the great sea dogs of Elizabethan England. He was a pirate and a privateer - he looted countless ships and was incarcerated by the Portuguese as a young man - and he aided Sir Francis Drake in one of his most daring voyages to attack the Spanish in the West Indies. But Frobisher was also a warrior who was knighted for his services against the Spanish Armada, and he was an explorer. He was the first Englishman to attempt to find the fabled Northwest Passage to Cathay – to China. He commanded three voyages into the uncharted northern wastes Canada and Greenland and devoted eighteen years of his life to this dream. Taliesin Trow’s new biographical study of this many-sided Elizabethan adventurer should revive interest in him and in this extraordinary period in English seafaring history. For Frobisher was a fascinating, enigmatic character whose reputation is often eclipsed by those of his remarkable contemporaries, Drake, Hawkins and Ralegh.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, is one of the great commanders of history. Using his great charm and diplomatic skills he was able to bind troops from various European states into a cohesive army that won a string of victories over the French armies of King Louis XIV, the first of which was perhaps his most spectacular triumph - the battle of Blenheim. Other great victories followed, but political and social turmoil proved harder opponents to defeat. This book provides a detailed look at the many highs and lows in the career of the most successful British general of his era.

In 1803, at the age of 14, Robert Hay ran away from home to join the Royal Navy, and for the next eight years experienced the trials and tribulations of a sailor s life. Intelligent, agile and willing, he became a boy servant to a series of officers, all of whom helped advance his education as was the practice of the day. But the taxing conditions of life onboard he found detestable and he was, after an action off the French coast, sorely tempted to desert but the well known and ruthless treatment of deserters, if caught, deterred him this time. He was then posted to the East Indies where he was badly wounded and nearly lost a leg before returning home after five years with £14 and fourteen days leave to look forward to. His next ship ran aground off Plymouth and, this time, he took the opportunity to desert but was then quickly taken by a press gang. Terrified of being identified, he managed to escape and reach the Scotland and home. As well as a wonderful yarn, the book is also an impressive description of early nineteenth-century naval life, and his ability as a writer was considerable. His descriptions of his remarkable experiences in the East Indies are full of the flavour of the region, while the sailor s natural inclination to drink and debauchery is told with verve. But also running through the narrative are many fine observations on nature and on the human condition. A true and vivid account of the sailor s life of this era.

History is brought to life through the colourful stories of eleven queens and empresses. Their lives were often tempestuous and tragic, ending in execution, suicide, divorce or abdication. Some were child brides, pawns in political games, and most had unfaithful husbands. These women differed widely: Queen Elizabeth spoke six languages, while Catherine I of Russia was an illiterate ex-kitchen maid. The tomboyish Christina, Queen of Sweden, contrasted with the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots. Catherine the Great was tyrannical, while Marie Antoinette was helpless and irresponsible. The conscientious Maria Theresa and the respectable Queen Victoria differed from the duplicitous Catherine de Medici and 'the Serpent of Old Nile', Cleopatra. There were great failures, as Catherine de Medici failed to preserve the Valois dynasty in France and Maria Theresa saw her empire diminished. On the other hand, under Queen Elizabeth the arts flourished in England, while Catherine the Great made Russia a major power, and Cleopatra's wiles warded off Roman suzerainty over Egypt.

George S. Patton Jr. was the iconic American field commander of World War II, and widely regarded as the US Army's finest practitioner of mechanized warfare. This title examines Patton's colorful life and leadership in three wars, with a concentration on his command in World War II. Despite his ability, Patton was thoroughly reviled by most GIs, partly due to his insistence on traditional military discipline in the ranks, but also because of his unwillingness to pander to the growing power of the press. This combination of ability and controversy have combined to make him one of the most interesting figures in American military history.

Immortalised in the plays of Shakespeare, Henry V is the most famous and celebrated of all England's medieval monarchs. Although his most famous battles and conquests took place in France, Henry, as was common amongst medieval aristocracy, was introduced to battle at an early age when he fought with his father, Henry IV, at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. On his accession to the throne, Henry turned his attention towards foreign affairs and the English position in France. This title will examine Henry's key battles and sieges, how he systematically extended English control throughout northern France and how he was perceived by his contemporaries as a military leader. It will also deal with his controversial military decisions, such as the slaughter of the French prisoners at Agincourt.

Erich von Manstein was one of the most successful German commanders of World War II. His military mind proved outstanding in many a conflict but perhaps his greatest triumph was his ingenious operational plan that led to the rapid defeat of France in May 1940. Manstein also showed great skill under adversity by commanding a furious rebuff to the Soviet armies in 1943, whilst Germany were retreating. However, his skill could not reverse Germany's declining fortunes and Manstein's frequent disagreement's with Hitler over military strategy led to his dismissal. Robert Forczyk tells the story of one of Germany's most valuable military talents, from his early years to his post-war conviction and his later career.

Harry Gosling was born in 1861. He left school at thirteen and was soon apprenticed as a lighterman on the River Thames. The great dock strike of 1889 engendered a rash of new unionism, and much activity within the old unions. By 1893, Gosling had been elected General Secretary of his Union, a full-time post. He was also extremely active in local government, becoming a member of the London County Council in 1904. It was in July 1910 that Ben Tillett, the leader of the Dockers' Union, convened a meeting of waterside unions to discuss the formation of the National Transport Workers' Federation. Harry Gosling was elected President. Ernest Bevin was soon elected to the Executive, after which he and Gosling worked very closely together. Eventually, the Transport and General Workers' Union was formed out of the multiplicity of unions constituting the Federation, and Gosling was its founding President. After several attempts to win election to Parliament, Gosling was finally victorious in a by-election in 1923, at Whitechapel. The following year the first Labour Government was formed and MacDonald appointed Gosling as Minister of Transport. He died while still a Member of Parliament, in 1930. All these adventures and insights, recounted in his own words in his autobiography, which has long been out of print, will resonate with new generations.

Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British Second Army in the invasion of Europe 1944-45, is almost unknown to the general public. Yet his part in Britain’s contribution to that campaign was second only to Montgomery’s in importance. Dempsey survived two and a half years of bitter fighting as an infantry officer on the Western Front before accompanying his beloved Royal Berkshire Regiment in the little-known North West Persia campaign of 1920-21. In six years he rose from Major to command over half a million men in the largest combined operation in history, and led them to victory a year later. Based on sources which include some of Dempsey’s previously unpublished work and the views of those who knew him, the book traces his career as a soldier of rare distinction, a talented sportsman and a man of huge charm and shrewd intellect, dedicated to his beloved regiment and ever mindful of the lives of his soldiers. It examines his methods of command and his relationships with Montgomery, his Corps commanders, the Americans and the RAF. It highlights his crucial role in the Dunkirk evacuation, the training of the Canadian Army, and the invasion of Sicily, Italy, and North West Europe. It analyses why his army performed so brilliantly on D Day, and examines his contribution to the campaign in Europe.

The first edition of Zuma, published in late 2008, concluded with Jacob Zuma’s future balancing on a knife’s edge. National elections loomed, but so did corruption charges and endless court battles. Since then Zuma’s star has spectacularly risen – the corruption charges were dropped, he led the ANC to election victory and duly became President of South Africa, and his new cabinet and government appointments were generally well received. But he has also recently suffered a huge blow with revelations of another love-child, this time with the daughter of soccer supremo Irvine Khoza. Many of his supporters have distanced themselves from him, and Zuma is looking isolated. Pundits are once again wondering how long he’ll survive as President. In this revised and updated edition, Jeremy Gordin takes the reader right up to present. He covers in detail the highs and lows of Zuma’s past 18 months, including the final salvoes of his legal battles, as well as his first year as President.

Charismatic, erudite and often controversial Winton Churchill was one of the most inspiring leaders of the twentieth century, and one of its greatest wits.His much-celebrated sense of fun and mischief has led to many of his jokes and ripostes becoming almost as well known as his famous wartime speeches. Gloriously definitive, Richard Langworth includes all Churchill's most famous quips and witticisms, as well as little known asides and observations. The only book of its kind to be sanctioned by the Churchill estate, it captures the great statesman at his most eloquent, witty, and engaging, Churchill's Wit celebrates the humour and humanity of this most imposing man. "My dear young man, thought is the most dangerous process known to man.' 'I believe I am the only man in the world to have received the head of a nation naked." "[A politician] is asked to stand, he wants to sit and he is expected to lie." " - Winston, you are drunk, and what's more you are disgustingly drunk. - Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly."

Joseph Goebbels was the most notorious demagogue of the twentieth century, and Hitler's closest confidant. This book uses his complete diary from 1923-1945, only recently released from the Soviet Union, to present a challenging new interpretation of his life. It charts Goebbels' rise from provincial obscurity in the Rhineland, through his emergence as the most dynamic speaker of the Nazi Party and the Gauleiter of Berlin in the 1920s, to his appointment as Hitler's Propaganda Minister in 1933. Combining analysis of Goebbels' relationships with women and of his political career, it argues that there were clear threads running through his life, from a turbulent adolescence through to his death. Goebbels' love of German culture, his obsession with 'sacrifice', his fascination for Hitler, and his hatred of the Jews led him into a fatal involvement with German politics which culminated in his suicide, together his wife and six children, in Hitler's bunker in 1945.

Arthur Ransome is best remembered as the author of the series of books that began with Swallows and Amazons and sold millions of copies around the world. But before he became the jolly Lakeland storyteller, offering idyllic images of brave children messing about in boats, Ransome had spent a decade in Russia and lived a very different life as a spokesman for authoritarianism and violence. He went there in 1913 as a struggling young freelance writer and made friends with leading Russian liberals, and wrote a fine book of tales based on Russian folk legends. But as the country sank into chaos and war, Ransome was caught up in the whirlwind of revolution. Always impressionable and eager to please, he gained the confidence of the Bolshevik leadership and became, for three crucial years, their main defender and propagandist in the West. His reports in the "Guardian" were uncritical and disingenuous. "MI6" considered him an agent of a foreign power; British officials argued that he should not be allowed to return to Britain. Yet at the same time, while Ransome was so intimate with the Communist leadership that he could get exclusive interviews with Lenin - who he portrayed as an avuncular, folksy, straight-talking politician - he was also offering to help elements of the British intelligence services with information about what was going on in Russia.

Edward William Watkin bestrides the Victorian Railway Age. As a boy of 11 he witnessed the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Two years before his death he was present at the opening of Marylebone Station, the terminus of the Great Central's London Extension, the last main-line railway to be built in Britain. Between these two occasions lay a varied and colourful life. Beginning his career with one of the constitutents of the London & North Western Railway, Watkin went on to manage the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire, before becoming chairman of the M&SL and also the South Eastern Railway and the Metropolitan. Best remembered as the driving force behind the London Extension, Watkin was also the main protagonist of the Channel Tunnel project, the completion of London's Inner Circle, and the building of the ill-fated Wembley Tower. When president of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, he played a prominent part in the political unification of the country. Throughout his life Watkin was politically active. Beginning as a Manchester Radical and supporter of the Anti-Corn Law League, he later became a Liberal and then Liberal Unionist M.P. for 25 years. He was a leading member of the Railway Interest in the Commons and one of the most important spokesmen for the industry. No biography of Sir Edward Watkin has hitherto been published. Here for the first time is a fully rounded, scholarly picture of one of giants of the Railway Age, based entirely on extensive archival research in both British and Canadian sources. It describes Watkin's individualistic career in railway management and politics in the setting of personal and company inter-relationships and rivalries, commercial and economic developments, and the national and local politics of the day. The book will appeal not only to railway enthusiasts and academics interested in nineteenth-century politics and transport history, but also rail professionals, since Watkin dealt with many issues that concern the industry today. David Hodgkins's new book is serious railway history at its best.

Bertie Ahern, three times Irish Taoiseach, is often described as an enigma. The Old IRA man's son who delivered peace in Northern Ireland. A working class boy responsible for the Celtic Tiger. The man of faith who ushered in progressive, cosmopolitan secular Ireland. An ardent nationalist admired by European leaders. 'I know 25 per cent of Bertie Ahern', said his finance minister, Charlie McCreevy, 'and that's 24 per cent more than anyone else.' Now in this frank and revealing autobiography, Ahern gives his own account of a remarkable political life and the personal story that accompanies it. He shows the cost to his family of a life played out in the public eye and, for the first time, discloses what really happened in his final weeks in power. Here for the first time is the truth behind the man who is Bertie. Ahern has been at the cutting edge of Irish politics for over three decades. He was first elected to Dail Eireann in the Fianna Fail landslide victory in 1977 that saw Jack Lynch returned as Taoiseach. In 1982, Charles Haughey appointed him Government Chief Whip. In volatile political times, he strongly supported Haughey during three challenges to his leadership of Fianna Fail. In 1987, Bertie Ahern received his first cabinet portfolio as Minister for Labour. It was a time when the Irish economy was in crisis. Ireland had a higher debt per head than Ethiopia or Sudan. Unemployment stood at 16%. Ahern negotiated Ireland's first social partnership agreement, which underpinned economic recovery and put in place the foundations for a period of sustained growth. In 1991, he was appointed Minister for Finance. International commentators first began to refer to 'Ireland's Tiger economy' in this period. When Bertie Ahern left the Department of Finance in late 1994, for the first time in almost 30 years, Ireland had a budget surplus. Bertie Ahern succeeded Albert Reynolds as leader of Fianna Fail in November 1994. Following the General Election in 1997, he became Ireland's youngest ever Taoiseach. The Ahern Era was a time of unprecedented progress in Irish society. Over the course of his tenure in office, Ireland's economy out-performed that of every other European country. For the first time ever, the number of people in employment in the State reached 2 million. Working closely with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, Ahern won widespread acclaim for his perseverance and skill in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, which has provided the political framework for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. On the international stage, he was a respected figure who enjoyed an acclaimed Presidency of the European Council in 2004. He presided over the completion of the largest ever expansion of the EU and concluded negotiations on a European constitution. He is one of only five visiting statesmen to have addressed both the United States Congress and the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. At home, Ahern enjoyed phenomenal electoral support. He was the first Taoiseach since 1944 to win three successive General Elections. Bertie Ahern resigned on 6th May, 2008. He had served for ten years, ten months and ten days as Taoiseach.

“Deep inside that T-shirt where we have tried to trap him,” notes the celebrated Chilean novelist Ariel Dorfman, “the eyes of Che Guevara are still burning with impatience.” Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy deftly capture this burning impatience, revealing Guevara as a powerful political and ethical thinker still capable of speaking directly to the challenges of our time.

Edward Baines, editor of the Leeds Mercury, MP for Leeds and man of letters, was one of the most significant political figures of the early nineteenth century and the iconic figure of provincial Dissenting Whiggery. His campaigning newspaper, the Leeds Mercury, became the guiding light of liberal provincial radicalism for almost half a century. Baines's pioneering use of the weekly editorial ultimately gained him a place in the pantheon of newspaper history and the columns of his paper also provided a forum for an intelligent exchange of views throughout the West Riding. His philosophy was based upon a deep commitment to Christian principles. David Thornton's new book, a revised version of a Leeds University Ph.D. thesis, not only describes Edward Baines's career in great detail but also sets his life against the history of Leeds and of Britain.

Mohandas Gandhi and Winston Churchill: India's moral leader and Great Britain's greatest Prime Minister. Born five years and seven thousand miles apart, they became embodiments of the nations they led. Both became living icons, idolized and admired around the world. Today, they remain enduring models of leadership in a democratic society. Yet the truth was Churchill and Gandhi were bitter enemies throughout their lives. This book reveals, for the first time, how that rivalry shaped the twentieth century and beyond. For more than forty years, from 1906 to 1948, Gandhi and Churchill were locked in a tense struggle for the hearts and minds of the British public, and of world opinion. Although they met only once, their titanic contest of wills would decide the fate of nations, continents, peoples, and ultimately an Empire. Here is a sweeping epic with a fascinating supporting cast, and a brilliant narrative parable of two men whose great successes were always haunted by personal failure - and whose final moments of triumph were overshadowed by the loss of what they held most dear.

T. E. Lawrence was the first modern celebrity and since his death the almost mythic figure of the man on a camel enacting a heroic dream has captured the imagination of each succeeding generation. Now, seventy years from Lawrence’s death, this visual biography takes us inside the mind of a man of extraordinary energy, ability and charisma who seemed to have everything in his hands only to throw it away, turning the rest of his life into an obsessive quest for anonymity and sanctuary, culminating in a motorbike crash and death at the age of only forty six. In this wonderfully illustrated book, the drama unfolds in Lawrence’s own atmospheric photographs, haunting paintings of the desert and its peoples, evocative drawings and ephemera, all supported by quotations from his personal account of his experiences.

A hero from the Great War he saw active service in Russia in 1919 - 20 and against the Pathans on the North West Frontier in 1935. By 1940 Alexander was a divisional commander with the BEF in France. His conduct during the withdrawal through Dunkirk where he took over the British 1st Corps in the crisis confirmed his outstanding ability. In the dark days of 1942 by now a full general he was sent to Burma with orders to hold the Japs at Rangoon. Just in time he realised this was impossible and his decision to withdraw prevented a total disaster. Despite this defeat he retained Churchill's confidence and he was appointed C in C Middle East. While eclipsed in PR terms by his subordinate Montgomery many felt that Monty owed his success to Alexander by protecting him from an increasingly impatient Churchill. Alexander went onto commanded the invasion of Sicily and as Army Group Commander masterminded the long slog up through Italy. His charm and easy nature were his greatest strengths as others worked enthusiastically with him. But critics have sought to prove that he lacked true ability and steel.

The year 1721 has many splendours: great houses built by William Kent, fine pictures and the fruits of commerce. But there are also thirteen public hanging days a year, drunkenness is endemic, organised crime rampages through the streets. And politics are ferocious. Robert Walpole, once imprisoned for financial chicanery, assumes political control and becomes Prime Minister. He personally detects a Jacobite plot, is dismissed in 1727 on the death of George I, recruits the new King's clever wife, Caroline, and bounces cheerfully back. Coarse, corrupt and cynical, Walpole dominates King, Parliament and Government until 1742.

Hester Salusbury was a child prodigy. Later, as Hester Thrale, her wit, learning and vivacity would attract the greats of the day, Joshua Reynolds, Fanny Burney, Boswell, David Garrick and Edmund Burke to the household at Streatham Park. She published to great popularity and acclaim on Johnson, irritating the hell out of Boswell, and remains one of our most perceptive sources. One of our first female historians, a feminist without knowing it, she also broke new ground in politics and business. When her husband died, rumours flew that she'd wed Johnson. Instead, she ran off with an Italian music teacher. The scandal consumed London society - and her relationship with her daughters. But Hester was passionately in love (it was a love that nearly killed her). This is a brightly lit portrait of an exceptional woman whose life, loves and letters make a vivid and important contribution to our understanding of Georgian England.

Churchill (1874-1965) was one of the 20th century's most charismatic and controversial figures. He escaped from capture as a prisoner of war in the Boer War, was a Nobel Prize-winning author and twice prime minister. He is best remembered as the astute and powerful orator who inspired a battered Britain to victory and led the post-war, shattered nation to recovery. Richard Langworth, co-chairman and editor of "The Churchill Centre", has spent over 20 years researching Churchill's written and spoken words.In "Churchill by Himself", which is fully authorised by the Churchill Estate, Langworth has edited and annotated this library to make the definitive collection of Churchill's words, thematically arranged. He also highlights the myriad quotations commonly mis-attributed to Churchill. From his meetings with world leaders such as Roosevelt, de Gaulle and Stalin, his verbal engagements with Hitler and the Third Reich, to his wit and oratory on the floor of the Commons, every facet of Churchill's life and times is explored with his own pragmatic intelligence, sharp humour and legendary wisdom.

This edition of the highly acclaimed one-volume Churchill: A Life, is the story of adventure. It follows Winston Churchill from his earliest days to his moments of triumph. Here, the drama and excitement of his story are ever-present, as are his tremendous qualities in peace and war, not least as an orator and as a man of vision. Martin Gilbert gives us a vivid portrait, using Churchill's most personal letters and the recollections of his contemporaries, both friends and enemies, to go behind the scenes of some of the stormiest and most fascinating political events of our time, dominated by two world wars, and culminating in the era of the Iron Curtain and the hydrogen bomb.

This first full biography of Mrs. Nassau Senior, 1822-1877, tells how an extraordinary woman escaped from the constraints of Victorian domesticity to become the first woman in Whitehall and one of Britain's great social reformers. An ardent Christian Socialist radical, like her brother Thomas Hughes (author of "Tom Brown's Schooldays"), Jeanie Senior pioneered social work with Octavia Hill, co-founded the British Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian war and battled as 'Government Inspector' on behalf of exploited Workhouse girls. She was ferociously attacked for advocating the fostering of all pauper orphans rather than their incarceration and for indicting Workhouse 'Barrack' schools for producing prostitution fodder. Her fight to defend her findings against male hostility politicised her and she became an icon for the late 19th century women's movement. Jeanie Senior was also a significant figure in the worlds of art, music and literature, even being, it is argued here, the vital inspiration for her friend George Eliot in creating Dorothea, heroine of Middlemarch. Her life was a great 'human story' as she struggled in the teeth of multiple bereavement, an unhappy marriage and cancer in order to rescue others more desperate and vulnerable still. Florence Nightingale told her she had been 'a noble Army of one' and later grieved that her 'premature death was a national and irreparable loss'.

One of the main functions of the Royal Navy during World War II was to defend from enemy attack Allied merchant shipping carrying vital war supplies to and from the United Kingdom. This it did in two ways. Firstly, it organised merchant ships into convoys escorted by a protective screen of warships and secondly by arming the merchant ships themselves so that they had some means of self defence. This book is an account of Norman Sparksman's experiences whilst serving in the Royal Navy. Firstly as a seaman during his officer training programme on HMS Edinburgh escorting convoys to the Russian Arctic ports of Murmansk and Archangel; and later, having been commissioned, serving in the branch of the Navy responsible for the arming of merchant ships.Surviving the loss of his ship in action while defending an Arctic convoy and the privations of an enforced two month stay in primitive conditions on the desolate snowbound North coast of Russia he then had to face the perilous voyage back to the UK on a destroyer sailing independently with no means of help in the event of mishap. Having arrived home safely the author completed his officer training at HMS King Alfred and the Royal Naval College Greenwich. He was then posted to the convoy assembly point in Belfast Lough to assist with the arming of the merchant ships assembling there for convoy. In April 1945 he was posted to the busy port of Calcutta in India, again to assist in the servicing of defensively equipped merchant ships. Demobilised in August 1946, the author returned home to civilian life. No more dodging bombs and shells. No more wondering if a torpedo would dispatch him to the next world.

A tearaway young man from Norfolk, Astley Cooper (1768–1841) became the world’s richest and most famous surgeon. Admired from afar by the Brontës and up close by his student Keats, his success was born of an appetite for bloody revolutions. He set up an international network of bodysnatchers, won the Royal Society’s highest prize and boasted to Parliament that there was no one whose body he could not steal. Experimenting on his neighbours’ corpses and the living bodies of their stolen pets, his discoveries were as great as his infamy. Caught up in the French Revolution, and in attempts to bring radical democracy to Britain, Cooper nevertheless rose to become surgeon to royals from the Prince Regent to Queen Victoria. Setting the past against his own reactions to autopsies and operations, hospitals and poetry, Burch’s Digging Up the Dead is a riveting account of a world of gothic horror as well as fertile idealism.

From the moment he was shot down to the final whistle, Jimmy James' one aim as a POW of the Germans was to escape. The Great Escaper describes his experiences and those of his fellow prisoners in the most gripping and thrilling manner. The author made more than 12 escape attempts including his participation in The Great Escape, where 50 of the 76 escapees were executed in cold blood on Hitler's orders. On re-capture, James was sent to the infamous Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where, undeterred, he tunnelled out. That was not the end of his remarkable story. Moonless Night has strong claim to be the finest escape story of the Second World War.

On 25 September 1939 Melvin Young reported to No.1 Initial Training Unit. He was selected as a bomber pilot and promoted to Flying Officer. Having undertaken a Lancaster conversion course Melvin and his new crew were posted to 57 Squadron at Scampton - soon to become 617 Squadron. On 15 May the Order for Operation Chastise was issued - the raid to be flown the next night, 16/17 May. The plan for the operation was that three waves of aircraft would be employed. The first wave of nine aircraft, led by Gibson, would first attack the Mohne Dam, then the Eder followed by other targets as directed by wireless from 5 Group HQ if any weapons were still available. This wave would fly in three sections of three aircraft about ten minutes apart led by Guy Gibson, Melvin Young and Henry Maudslay. At 00.43 Melvin and his crew made their attempt on the Mohne dam. Gibson recorded that Young's weapon made 'three good bounces and contact'.Once the dam had been breached Gibson with Melvin as his deputy led the three remaining armed aircraft towards the Eder Dam. On the return trip Melvin Young and his crew fell victim to enemy guns.

Allan Diffey s charming and amusing memoir portrays a long lost era of the Royal Navy in the 1950s, and one boy s love for ships and the sea. Diffey had never seen the sea until he was five years old, having been born just after the outbreak of the Second World War, and evacuated to Andover after his family s house in Gosport was bombed. On leaving school aged only fourteen, Allan was employed by the N.A.A.F.I. Institute and for the next two years delivered Ration Stores to all the small R.N. Craft that were based in Portsmouth Dockyard, and to H.M.S. Vernon. At the age of seventeen Allan became eligible to serve on sea going R.N. ships in a civilian capacity in the Ships Canteen and Goffa Bar whereon five days after his seventeenth birthday he was drafted to his first R.N. ship, H.M.S. Kenya. Allan relates his memoirs in a very simple manner as he recalls an era that was fast coming to an end of R.N. ships, the like of which we shall not see again. This book is a fascinating snapshot of Naval History from a civilian prospective.

In this major new double biography, Anka Muhlstein examines the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. At this time, quite uniquely, both the thrones of the British Isles were occupied by women, which for the first time brought the issue of royal consorts to the fore. The story of these two queens is one of the most fascinating in British history.

Thomas Carlyle was a major figure in Victorian literature and a unique commentator on nineteenth-century life. Born in humble circumstances in the Scottish village of Ecclefechan in 1795, his rise to fame was marked by fierce determination and the development of a highly distinctive literary voice. In this clear, authoritative and readable biography, John Morrow traces Carlyle's personal and intellectual career. Wide-ranging, prophetic and invariably challenging, his work ranged from the astonishing pseudo-autobiography "Sartor Resartus" to major historical works on the French Revolution and "Frederick the Great", and to radical political manifestos such as "Latter Day Pamphlets". "Thomas Carlyle" is an account of his work and of his life, including celebrity as the Sage of Chelsea and his tempestuous marriage to Jane Welsh Carlyle.

Award-winning biographer Jenny Uglow follows-up books on Elizabeth Gaskell, William Hogarth and the Lunar Society with the life of Thomas Bewick. In "Nature's Engraver" Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer's son from Tyneside who never courted fame yet revolutionised wood-engraving and influenced book illustration for a century to come. It is a story of violent change and radical politics, of Newcastle and the Tyne, workshops and family life, mines and fells, the sea and the fierce west winds - a journey into a past whose energy and power still haunt us today, and the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world.

Welcome to the fabulous world of Harry Gordon Selfridge (1856-1947): father of modern retailing, philanderer, gambler, dandy and the greatest showman the consumer world has ever known. In Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge, the bustle of turn-of-the-century America is thrillingly evoked by fashion PR legend Lindy Woodhead as we’re introduced to the men who created the first department stores – what Zola called ‘great cathedrals of shopping’. The young Mr Selfridge learnt his trade in the nascent metropolis of Chicago – the Dubai of its day – where riches were lost as quickly as fortunes were made. Moving to London in 1907, Harry Selfridge lived through the tumult of the First World War and the glittering excesses of the 1920's when he lost millions at the gaming tables in France before being ousted from his store in 1939. His seductive talents extended much further than the shop floor too, as he racked up a lengthy list of female companions over the years. To this irrepressible man, ‘the store was a theatre with the curtain going up at 9 o’clock’: Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge tells the story of what happened before the curtain fell.

Cyril Lionel Robert James was the great intellectual of the African revolution. He was a friend and inspiration to Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere, the two leaders of the first generation of independence struggles. His account of Toussaint L'Ouverture's slave rebellion in Haiti is one of the great historical works of the twentieth century. His studies of Hegel and Marx became part of the common knowledge of several generations of radicals in America, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Although born in Trinidad, his thought was also shaped by the experience of migration to Britain. James was a product of the colonial education system, a world which shaped him, even as he exposed and fought it. In Britain today, James is known as both for his radicalism and also for his extraordinary autobiography "Beyond a Boundary", by common consent, the greatest book about cricket ever written.

Adam Smith was long ago adopted as the father of a neo-conservative economic ideology, not least by Thatcher and Reagan. More recently, New Labour has tried to kidnap him as an ancestor. In a vigorous and informal book, James Buchan shows that Smith fits no modern political category. As befits the most accessible of all philosophers, this biography does entirely without jargon.

Sir Thomas Fairfax, not Oliver Cromwell, was creator and commander of Parliament's New Model Army from 1645 to 1650. Although Fairfax emerged as England's most successful commander of the 1640s, this book challenges the orthodoxy that he was purely a military figure, showing how he was not apolitical or disinterested in politics. The book combines narrative and thematic approaches to explore the wider issues of popular allegiance, puritan religion, concepts of honour, image, reputation, memory, gender, literature, and Fairfax's relationship with Cromwell. "Black Tom" delivers a groundbreaking examination of the transformative experience of the English revolution from the viewpoint of one of its leading, yet most neglected, participants. It is the first modern academic study of Fairfax, making it essential reading for university students as well as historians of the seventeenth century. Its accessible style will appeal to a wider audience of those interested in the civil wars and interregnum more generally.

This is the shocking memoir by visionary Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, giving an account of his life as a writer and a homosexual and his struggle for freedom of expression. He describes his poverty-stricken childhood in rural Cuba and his adolescence as a rebel fighting for Castro, his suppression as a writer, imprisonment as a homosexual, and his flight from Cuba via the Mariel boat lift. He never really reconciled himself to life in America away from the beloved country of his birth, and committed suicide in 1990 at the age of 47, already dying from Aids.

This book tells the vivid story of the pioneer of photography, Eadweard Muybridge. His extraordinary personal story has all the ingredients of drama. He was born in the English suburbs, and set out to seek adventure and fortune in the American Wild West. While visiting Europe his coach overturned, and he was treated for a fractured skull. It was at this time that photography grew. Muybridge became a pioneering innovator, who not only invented new methods of photography, but devised 'a flying studio' which enabled him to dvelop his pictures in the field. He was betrayed by his wife, and risked everything by killing her lover. Muybridge's work is iconic, the picture of the moving horse, which proved how it lifted its four feet off the ground simultaneously, known throughout the world. His distinctive stop-motion pictures of men, women, boxers, wrestlers, racehorses, elephants and camels frozen in time, captured in the act of moving, fighting, galloping, living, have become some of the most famous images in the history of photography and science.

This book aims to show that Adam Smith (1723-90), the author of "The Wealth of Nations", was not the promoter of ruthless laissez-faire capitalism that is still frequently depicted. Smith's "right-wing" reputation was sealed after his death when it was not safe to claim that an author may have influenced the French revolutionaries. But, as the author, also, of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", which he probably regarded as his more important book, Smith sought a non-religious grounding for morals, and found it in the principle of sympathy, which should lead an impartial spectator to understand others' problems.

John Scott Haldane (1860-1936) was one of the greatest and most colourful of British scientists, acknowledged as the leading physiologist of the era at a time when physiology and much of medical science was coming into its own. The most successful serial self-experimenter in the history of science, Haldane crawled through the carnage of underground explosions, locked himself in sealed chambers, breathed in lethal cocktails of gases, sampled his own blood, burned and healed his own flesh, and experimented on his own children, in an obsessional push to understand the nature of human respiration. What is expired air? How can you make coalmines safer? What does carbon monoxide do to people? These are just some of the vital questions to which Haldane provided the answers, saving thousands of lives in the process. He also designed the first space-suit and invented the gas-mask, among many other innovations and contributions we still benefit from today. Entertaining and enlightening in equal measure, Martin Goodman's lively and revealing biography casts new light on one of the greatest eccentrics of British scientific and intellectual life.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the debut of one of the world's greatest cricketers, this will be an official book, with authoritative text from Mark Baldwin ("The Times"), supported with lavish full colour and b/w photos of Ian Botham's life and cricket career. Following his Test debut in 1977, Ian will be choosing the best photographs that highlight his finest moments in the game, and working alongside Mark Baldwin, he will caption each of them as well as provide an extended introduction on the countries he has played against, players he's faced, and characters he's met along the way. His friend and rock legend, Sir Mick Jagger, will provide the foreword. This will be the only book anyone will need to track the meteor-like career of one of the game's greatest players, as well as see what he gets up to behind the scenes, including his legendary charity walks for John O'Groats to Lands End.

Craig Nelson's rich and vivid biography does justice to one of of the world's greatest thinkers, bringing him to life against the dramatic backdrop of the Revolutionary era and the Age of Enlightenment that he helped to shape. Nelson traces Paine's dramatic path from his years as a struggling London mechanic to his journey after fortune in the New World; from his early pamphleteering to his heroism as the voice of revolution on two continents; and from his miraculous escape from execution in Paris to his final years in America.

Elizabeth Fry, mother of eleven children and a Quaker minister, is today seen as one of the most influential and enigmatic women in English history. Dismayed by the terrible prison conditions in the early nineteenth century, Fry drew the world's attention to the plight of incarcerated women, and became a living legend. A symbol of saintliness and virtue, 'Betsy' Fry was described in parliament as 'the genius of good'. Yet, during her lifetime this remarkable woman aroused hostility as well as admiration. Quakers found her 'worldliness' disquieting; not all of her fellow penal reformers approved of her unorthodox ways and her family felt neglected. As for Betsy herself, she was tortured throughout her life by self-doubt and anxiety and torn between the demands of her family, her religion and her own attraction to the 'high life'. June Rose's classic biography, based on Elizabeth Fry's private journals, reveals the 'saint' as she really was. She removes Fry from her pedestal and reawakens our interest in this complex, contradictory personality who defied the conventions of her age to fulfil her destiny.

Beautiful and talented, versatile and charismatic, Elizabeth Robins was one of the foremost actresses of her day. Yet, this enduring character was also an active and lifelong feminist, and her life as a suffragette saw her working alongside the Pankhursts in the Women's and Social and Political Union. A prolific novelist and playwright, her play "Votes for Women!" changed the nature of theatre by instigating suffrage drama. She became so well known for portraying characters from Ibsen's plays that she is credited with bringing the playwright's work to prominence. Born in America during the Civil War, Elizabeth nevertheless made her home in England, where she became acquainted with Oscar Wilde, Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Henry James. Oscar Wilde introduced her to the London stage, and before long she had become one of the most popular actresses in London with an assured entry into London's leading artistic and political circles. Encountering heartbreak and solitude (Elizabeth's husband George Park drowned himself in 1887), this remarkable actress became one of the most fascinating characters of the fin de siecle world. In this intriguing biography, Angela John examines Elizabeth's historical identity and, drawing extensively on her diaries, letters and reviews, provides a fascinating study of the social culture surrounding a woman who lived a life in the spotlight.

Thomas Hodgkin (1910-1982) was an intriguing figure: public schoolboy, Oxford student, colonial official, Marxist, dissident and Oxford don. He left the colonial office after becoming convinced that Britain was not respecting the Palestinians. He travelled extensively in Africa and became one of the founders of the new discipline of African Studies, writing African Political Parties and Nationalism in Colonial Africa. His Vietnam: The Revolutionary Path was written in the midst of the American intervention. An unconventional scholar, he met many prominent political figures - Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara and Kwame Nkrumah among them. Wolfers records the successes and strengths as well as failures and weaknesses, candidly telling the story of Hodgkin's unusual 'marriage of three'. Drawing on an immense store of unpublished material in the Hodgkin family papers, Michael Wolfers provides the first detailed biography of Thomas Hodgkin - a remarkable human being and intellectual.


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This is a true story of Mis.Monroe.A true and interesting life of Marilyn and her childhood.We go all the way back to when Marilyn as just a little girl.I hope you injoy this life story.=D

Where There's Darkness, There's Light.

Where There's Darkness, There's Light.

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This is everything about Whitney Houston when she was born until she died. R.I.P. Whitney Elizabeth Houston Brown. She was a very beautiful person, very good actor and singer.

justin bieber life and even what he thinks. PS PS PS i did cut and paste almost all of this.

In life, Virgo had two choices, living their way or living her way. She realized that she would lose herself doing it their way and began to wonder if she could take her life back doing it her way. Determined, she set out on a journey to find the answer. Virgo put everyone. Read more.

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Related Reads

Brave Genius: How the Unlikely Friendship of Scientist Jacques Monod and Philosopher Albert Camus Shaped Modern Culture

A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus on Our Search for Meaning and Why Happiness Is Our Moral Obligation

Albert Camus on the Will to Live and the Most Important Question of Existence

Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist
by Linda Skeers, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens
Perfect in every way, this appealing biography recounts Mary Anning’s beach discoveries of the first dinosaur bones –fossilized ancient creatures that no one had ever seen before. Even though women weren’t invited into the scientific community at the time, she continued her exploring and learning. Pretty illustrations and fantastic writing with impressive sentence variety. (Writing teachers, use this book as a mentor text to teach varying sentence length!)

The Diamond and the Boy: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall
by Hannah Holt, illustrated by Jay Fleck
Brilliantly conceived and exceptionally written using parallel storytelling. The structure shows the similarities between the rocks of the earth and a boy’s life using the descriptions of HEAT, PRESSURE, CHANGE, and WAITING. As we read, we learn about the graphite in the earth as well as the curious boy who finds solace in the library. We see the diamonds waiting to be discovered while the boy grows up to work in a lab where he patiently builds an invention — a machine that makes diamonds. (This is a real thing!) I love the unique presentation and beautiful wordsmithing in this 2018 book.

Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter
by Christine Evans, illustrated by Yasmin Imamura
But Evelyn went anyway” repeats throughout this story to show the pioneering courage of Evelyn Cheesman, a woman who didn’t let conventions of what girls could or couldn’t do stop her from living her passion. In the late 1800s, this daring English girl pursued her love for animals with a job running the London Zoo’s insect house. Not only that, she developed a singular focus on entomology, soon traveling the globe to discover new insects. And when she was told not to go places, you guessed it, …she went anyway. Not only is this about an adventurous, tenacious woman we all can admire but also the writing is superb and the lovely illustrations perfectly complement the narrative.

The House That Cleaned Itself: The True Story of Frances Gabe’s (Mostly) Marvelous Invention
by Laura Deashewitz and Susan Romberg, illustrated by Meghann Rader
An awe-inspiring inventor biography with excellent writing! Frances’s jaw-dropping inventions for cleaning her house are quite inventive. She’s a really smart problem-solver and a person you’d want to meet. When she gets fed up with her “job” doing all the housework, she creates a house with rooms that clean themselves. Imagine an automatic carwash INSIDE with air jets and a slanted floor. Although her ideas didn’t catch on, maybe one day another inventor will build on Frances’s ideas. Lovely pastel illustrations!

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson NASA Mathematician by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by Raul Colon
You can’t help but be inspired by Katherine’s life story. Katherine zipped through her schooling early because she was so smart, finding a job as a teacher. But she’s most well-known for her next job as a human calculator for NASA’s space program, helping the first American travel to space.

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really)
by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Chris Hsu
Read about an invention from necessity. Earle’s wife, Josephine, is accident-prone. REALLY accident-prone. Worried about her cuts and infections, Earle invents an adhesive tape “bandage” which helps his wife! He pitches the idea to his bosses at Johnson & Johnson, they love it and call the product Band-Aids. Unfortunately, the Band-Aids don’t sell so the company decides not to sell them but to give them away to other accident-prone groups — the Boy Scouts and soldiers. Before long, the world sees the need for this practical invention –and aren’t you glad?

The Astronaut With a Song For the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa
by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
The rhyming text narrates the story of Ellen, a girl who wants to be an astronaut — and she does. In fact, she becomes the first Latina in space where she even plays the flute when she isn’t studying the sun and its effects on our earth’s atmosphere.

Ada’s Ideas The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
by Fiona Robinson
Ada lived in an era of burgeoning factories with a strict mathematician mother. As an adult, she used her brilliant mind to help her friend Charles Babbage improve his calculation machine so it would to be more like what we know today as a computer. Although it wasn’t mass-produced, Ada is credited with being the first computer programmer. GORGEOUS mixed-media illustrations! You might also like: Ada Bryon Lovelace and the Thinking Machine.

Mae Among the Stars
by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
Beautifully illustrated and inspirationally written!
Little Mae dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Her parents told her she could do it if she worked hard, taking Mae to the library to find information and encouraging her astronaut pretend play after dinner. Despite her teacher’s discouragement (“Nursing would be a good profession for someone like you”), Mae listened to her mom and stuck to her dream. Mae kept dreaming, believing, and working hard. She (Dr. Mae Jemison) succeeded she became the first African American female astronaut in space.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
by Natascha Biebow, illustrated by Steven Salerno
This might be a new favorite biography picture book because it’s skillfully written, perfect for young readers, about a topic that we all love — crayons. Edwin Binney is a curious inventor who always listened to what people needed in their lives. First, he created a slate pencil for children in the classroom then next, a better, non-crumble chalk for teachers. When many people, including his own wife, asked for better, cheaper colored crayons, Edwin and his team experimented with rocks, minerals, pigments, and clays and found the perfect mixtures for a longer-lasting crayon. People loved them!

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World
by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Oliver Dominquez
Nikola Tesla didn’t achieve the same recognition for his achievements as his rival Thomas Edison. This biography, meant for upper elementary readers, is a well-designed, chronological account of Tesla’s life. I’d prefer the text were larger but overall this is a decent biography. *You might also like Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab mystery series.

Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford
by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Read this picture book for perseverance and grit in action! Two boys grow up with two different passions — Henry for cars and Thomas for electricity. Henry practices and fails while watching Thomas succeed in many inventions. What was Thomas’ secret? Henry moved next door to find out. He found out that he knew the secret all along — keep at it. Which he did! After many trials and errors, (Models A, B, C, F, K, and N) he succeeded with the Model T.

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark
by Heather Lang, illustrated by Jordi Solano
Genie loved all fish, especially sharks, and wanted to be a fish scientist. Even though she lived in the 1930s when that wasn’t a regular job for a woman, Genie found work — first as an assistant, then as a researcher for the US Navy, and finally, she opened up her own marine laboratory. She focused her research on sharks, discovering more about sharks than anyone knew before. Reading this picture book biography inspired me and sparked my interest in learning more about sharks.

Miss Todd and Her Wonderful Flying Machine
by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee
I love the unique, beautiful artwork in this story based off a short film about the life of the real Lily Todd. She was the first woman to build and design an airplane — despite that in the early 1900s no one believed a woman could or should do such a thing. Despite the many NOs she was told, Miss Todd built and flew anyway. Perseverance! Watch the award-winning film

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Fascinating and important history meet gifted storytelling in this new picture book biography about Louis Braille. We follow the life of precocious, sightless Louis who desperately wants to read and write but is disappointed with his limited options. Despite being chronically ill, a child, and lots of failed attempts, Louis invents a system for the blind to read and write that is still in use today. (This book is on my BEST CHILDREN’S NONFICTION BOOKS OF 2016 list.)

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
While I’m not a fan of rhyming books usually, I liked how the author simplifies Dr. Grandin’s life story in a meaningful way. We see how Dr. Grandin didn’t fit at school since her brain was different. When kicked out, Dr. Grandin went to stay at her aunt’s farm where she connected with the animals who were easier to relate to than people. Her story continued with a new school and an understanding teacher, inventions, and a life after college that included speaking about autism. “Each person is special– so UNIQUE are our minds. This world needs YOUR ideas. It takes brains of ALL kinds.” Engaging, beautiful illustrations throughout this story.

The Doctor With an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath
by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Oh, my goodness I love the illustrations in this picture book so so so much! And the story, in rhyme, it’s inspiring. Read how Patricia, despite being a girl and African American, stood firm in her goal to become a doctor. She did and later invented the laser probe to heal eyes.

Literary Biographies

Alice Walker: A Life
Evelyn C. White traces the writer&aposs life from her days as the child of Georgia sharecroppers to the international triumph of "The Color Purple."

Allen Tate: Orphan of the South
A biography of the critic Allen Tate focuses on his Southern aesthetics.

Anthony Blunt: His Lives
Miranda Carter has written a biography of the enigmatic art historian who was surveyor of Britain&aposs royal pictures and a secret Soviet spy.

Anthony Powell: A Life
The first full-length life of Powell is chatty and jokey in a manner peculiar to British biographers.

The Art of Burning Bridges: A Life of John O&aposHara
Geoffrey Wolff looks past John O&aposHara&aposs reputation as an ogre to get to the writer who shook up 20th-century fiction.

Arthur Miller: His Life and Work
Martin Gottfried’s biography tracks the influence of Arthur Miller’s life on his work.

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith
Andrew Wilson&aposs biography explores the turbulence beneath the talent.

Bertrand Russell: The Ghost of Madness, 1921-1970
A biographer suggests that Bertrand Russell&aposs shortcomings doomed those closest to him.

Borges: A Life
The biographer Edwin Williamson turns to Jorge Luis Borges&aposs labyrinthine stories to search for clues about his life.

Boswell&aposs Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson
Adam Sisman&aposs book is, in effect, the biography of a biography, and it&aposs also a closely focused but highly affecting portrait of James Boswell the writer.

The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury
Sam Weller&aposs biography describes the ascent to literary stardom of the man Time called "The Poet of the Pulps."

The Brontë Myth
Lucasta Miller&aposs wonderfully entertaining book seeks to tell how three clever sisters from Yorkshire became literary heroines.

Byron: Life and Legend
According to Fiona MacCarthy&aposs biography, female conquests served to distract Byron from his true desires.

Charles Dickens
In her brief biography, Jane Smiley presents Charles Dickens as a conscious artisan.

Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Sarah Wheeler has written a biography of Apsley Cherry-Garrard, whose classic book tried to understand the terrible deaths of Robert Falcon Scott and his companions.

Chester Himes: A Life
In his crime novels, Chester Himes found an outlet for the pain of his turbulent life.

As the scholar R. W. B. Lewis demonstrates in this brief, loving and unassumingly learned biography, Dante wrote the story of his own life.

A Daring Young Man: A Biography of William Saroyan
William Saroyan&aposs work is largely forgotten today, and John Leggett, his biographer, seems determined to keep things that way.

D. H. Lawrence
John Worthen&aposs D. H. Lawrence is a troubled exile, writing his way into notoriety.

Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871-1881
The final volume of Joseph Frank&aposs biography takes us through the master&aposs last decade and the writing of his greatest novel.

The Double Bond. Primo Levi: A Biography
The entwined complexities and contradictions of man and writer are caught in Carole Angier&aposs biography of Primo Levi.

Dylan Thomas: A New Life
Andrew Lycett chronicles the life of an unproductive poet who, after early success, spent 20 years trying to be original again.

Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature
Lewis M. Dabney&aposs biography must grapple with Wilson&aposs innocent appetites, his pure idealism, his belief in the word and his vast impracticality.

The Education of John Dewey: A Biography
Jay Martin&aposs biography of John Dewey, one of the century&aposs most important philosophers, explores his uneventful life.

Edward Abbey: A Life
Edward Abbey, the literary provocateur and spiritual father of the radical environment movement, is the subject of a new biography.

Lawrence Buell&aposs "Emerson" lucidly clarifies his subject&aposs central ideas without grinding their contradictions to mush.

Eudora Welty: A Biography
Suzanne Marrs&aposs new biography shows Welty to be fully connected to the world around her.

Fanny Burney: A Biography
A biography of Fanny Burney, who turned 18th-century taste for gossip into a career as a fiction writer.

The Fly Swatter: How My Grandfather Made His Way in the World
Nicholas Dawidoff&aposs family memoir centers on his grandfather, the eminent economist Alexander Gerschenkron.

Frank Norris: A Life
Frank Norris&aposs writing was marked by naturalism and rationalism.

Frantz Fanon: A Biography
David Macey has written a prodigiously researched, absorbing book about the mind and the passion of a 20th-century revolutionary.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Curtis Cate explores the life and the labors of an incomparable mind.

Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life
Caroline Moorehead’s biography of Martha Gellhorn, a wife of Hemingway, is a depressing account of the life of the archetypal "girl reporter."

Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller
Though he was homely and uneducated, Hans Christian Andersen maintained a steadfast belief in his own destiny.

Harriet Jacobs: A Life
The scholar Jean Fagan Yellin tells the story of the woman behind "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl."

Hart Crane: A Life
Clive Fisher&aposs new biography of Hart Crane reads the poems in the context of the life.

Hawthorne: A Life
Brenda Wineapple is the latest writer to tackle Nathaniel Hawthorne’s life and try to distill his shadowy essence.

Herman Melville: A Biography. Volume 2, 1851-1891
The second volume of Hershel Parker&aposs massive biography of Herman Melville focuses on his life at home.

Her Own Woman: The Life of Mary Wollstonecraft
The founder of the feminist movement and the mother of Mary Shelley.

I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick
Emmanuel Carrère&aposs book, ostensibly a biography on the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, reads like a hyperadolescent spouting forth trippy what-ifs.

Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions
Lectures from an expert on the masques of the Stuart court and other visual aspects of Renaissance staging

Iris Murdoch
Peter J. Conradi&aposs new biography makes it clear that Iris Murdoch used her novels to conduct a long and thrilling course of public therapy.

Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d&aposOrcia
Caroline Moorehead&aposs biography of an Anglo-American heiress and author who was raised to be a true international citizen is succinct and informative.

Irving Howe: A Life of Passionate Dissent
Irving Howe, the subject of Gerald Sorin&aposs new biography, saw the shtetl as an ideal against which to measure his dissatisfaction with capitalist America.

Isherwood: A Life Revealed
Peter Parker has covered with daunting thoroughness the life of Christopher Isherwood, whose greatest fictional characters were always himself.

Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy: A Life
Jean Bethke Elshtain seeks to rescue Jane Addams from her reputation as a prim Lady Bountiful by presenting the reformer as an exemplary public intellectual.

J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian
Julia Markus interprets a major Victorian sage without psychoanalyzing him.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius
In this fine new biography, Leo Damrosch restores Rousseau to us in all his originality.

John Clare: A Biography
Jonathan Bate has written a biography of John Clare, an agricultural laborer who became a Romantic poet.

John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds
Eileen Warburton has written a painstaking biography of John Fowles, who has long been preoccupied with the workings of fate.

John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics
The career of a public intellectual, ambassador and aphorist.

John Maynard Keynes. Volume Three: Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946
The final installment of Robert Skidelsky&aposs magisterial biography of John Maynard Keynes emphasizes his role in devising Britain&aposs wartime economic strategy.

Kafka: The Decisive Years
Reiner Stach examines the unfathomable Kafka, focusing on his years of intensity.

Karel Capek: Life and Work
Famous long ago, a Czech literary figure is being resurrected by his fans, including Ivan Klima, the author of a new biographical study.

Katherine Anne Porter: The Life of an Artist
"Ship of Fools" described a world drifting toward war, but for Katherine Anne Porter, it meant success.

L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz
Katharine M. Rogers&aposs biography of L. Frank Baum praises him as a loving father and a sophisticated writer.

The Life of Graham Greene: Volume Three: 1955-1991
Norman Sherry&aposs biography is invaluable as an intellectual and political history of the 20th century and fascinating as a rogues&apos gallery.

A Life of James Boswell
The author of Dr. Johnson&aposs life is himself the subject of a biography, based on a trove of his letters and journals.

Lucky Him: The Life of Kingsley Amis
Richard Bradford&aposs biography portrays a serial adulterer who didn&apost like anybody very much.

Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore: A History of Love and Violence Among the African American Elite
Eleanor Alexander has written an account of the tragic relationship between Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore, who were the black Brownings, with a difference.

Malraux: A Life
André Malraux, his biographer Olivier Todd writes, was "autonomous in relation to facts." That is putting things mildly.

Mark Twain: A Life
Ron Powers&aposs biography recounts the crowded, whipsawing life of Mark Twain, part bum and part grandee.

Mary Shelley
Miranda Seymour has written an affectionate biography of the woman who was at the center of the Romantic movement but is remembered for a horror story.

Melville: His World and Work
Andrew Delbanco says Melville had something smaller in mind, but "Moby-Dick" ran away with its author.

My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson
Alfred Habegger&aposs life of Dickinson seeks to turn America&aposs spinster into flesh and blood.

The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life
Tom Reiss explains how a not-so-nice Russian Jewish boy became a dagger-wielding Muslim writer.

Orwell: The Life
George Orwell’s work traversed the full spectrum of political ideology.

Peter Taylor: A Writer&aposs Life
It becomes apparent in Hubert H. McAlexander&aposs biography that Peter Taylor was something of an unreliable narrator of his own life.

Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M. F. K. Fisher
Joan Reardon&aposs biography of M. F. K. Fisher examines her love affairs with people and food.

Primo Levi: A Life
Ian Thomson’s life of the Italian Holocaust survivor Primo Levi seeks to answer a lingering, and troubling, question.

Pushkin: A Biography
T. J. Binyon&aposs magnificent new biography of Pushkin shows how the great Russian poet turned art into a substitute for politics.

Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius
Lawrence Jackson&aposs rich, meticulous life of the author of "Invisible Man" is the first biography of Ellison.

Regions of the Great Heresy. Bruno Schulz: A Biographical Portrait
The Polish poet and writer Jerzy Ficowski meditates on the life of Bruno Schulz, the writer, artist and martyr.

Richard Wright: The Life and Times
Hazel Rowley&aposs biography of Richard Wright documents his early success and growing disaffection.

Romancing: The Life and Work of Henry Green
Henry Green was a famous novelist once and now he&aposs not. How much would he have minded?

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Samuel Pepys, whose diaries give us the most personal account we have of life in the 1600&aposs, is relevant to our time, says Claire Tomalin in her biography.

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Self-dramatization is at the heart of the erotic autobiography Millay made of her poems and her life, as Nancy Milford vividly shows in her riveting and revealing biography.

Savage Shorthand: The Life and Death of Isaac Babel
Isaac Babel used dark comedy to depict life under the Soviet system that killed him.

The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal
Barry Werth&aposs life of Newton Arvin, once one of America&aposs premier literary critics, recounts how the scholar&aposs career was ruined by a sex scandal.

Wood&aposs book is the byproduct of a short series of television programs.

Shakespeare for All Time
A new study by the doyen of modern British Shakespeare scholarship.

Shakespeare: The Biography
Ackroyd&aposs book is longitudinal it tackles the entire life, with just enough about the ancestors and a brief look at the afterlife.

Siegfired Sassoon: A Life
Siegfired Sassoon&aposs long experience of World War I shaped his life and work.

Simone Weil
Francine du Plessix Gray&aposs short biography of Simone Weil betrays its author&aposs understandable exasperation with her subject&aposs solipsistic martyrdom.

Sinclair Lewis: Rebel From Main Street
Richard Lingeman&aposs biography of Sinclair Lewis may help revive the reputation of a novelist whose fortunes declined after winning the Nobel Prize.

The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken
Terry Teachout is the latest biographer of H. L. Mencken, the cranky, unworldly and hopelessly Teutonic cynic.

Somerset Maugham: A Life
The prolific Jeffrey Meyers has written a life of Somerset Maugham, the most successful writer of his time and maybe the most glamorous as well.

Stephen Spender: A Literary Life
John Sutherland&aposs authorized biography is the life, we are encouraged to believe, that Spender would have wished.

Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet
Elaine Feinstein&aposs biography of Ted Hughes is the first full-scale portrait of the poet since his death in 1998.

Tête-à-Tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
In lying about their relationships to everyone around them, Sartre and Beauvoir came to lie to each other.

A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates
As Blake Bailey&aposs biography shows, Richard Yates needed only luck to complement his abundant talent. He never had any.

Understanding Anthony Powell
A compact, intelligent critical survey.

Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft
In her wonderful, and deeply sobering, new book, Lyndall Gordon tackles this formidable woman with grace, clarity and much new research.

Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life
Another Woolf biography, this one focused on the work, not the gossip.

V. S. Pritchett: A Working Life
Jeremy Treglown&aposs biography of a writer who found his material in shopkeepers and commercial travelers.

W. B. Yeats: A Life.Volume 2: The Arch-Poet, 1915-1939
The second volume of R. F. Foster&aposs marvelous biography of Yeats revolves around love, politics, poetry and magic.

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay
By Daniel Mark Epstein
A hasty sketch, but Epstein often puts his finger on the pulse of Millay&aposs work.

William Maxwell: A Literary Life
Barbara Burkhardt has written a biography about the longtime New Yorker editor who wrote fiction that evoked his Midwestern boyhood.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt, a leading Renaissance scholar, weaves a life from threadbare facts.

The Wit in the Dungeon: The Remarkable Life of Leigh Hunt — Poet, Revolutionary, and the Last of the Romantics
Shelley, Keats, Byron and Hunt. Hunt? A new biography examines a neglected Romantic.

Wodehouse: A Life
In 93 years, adult concerns never troubled P. G. Wodehouse, who is the subject of a new biography by Robert McCrum.

Wordsworth: A Life
William Wordsworth was a great poet, a friend of the great and a man at the center of complex emotional entanglements.

The World of Christopher Marlowe
Born the same year as Shakespeare died at 29. Was Marlowe, the subject of a new biography by David Riggs, the better writer while alive?

Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
A biography by Valerie Boyd and a collection of letters illuminate the complicated life of Zora Neale Hurston.

Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women
Zane Grey&aposs mega-selling westerns were only part of the allure that fixed his name in the hearts of millions of Americans.

History Book Series for Kids

1. Who Was … ?

We’ve turned to the Who Was…? biography series time and time again and it never disappoints. We’ve used some of these as read-alouds, but my nine year-old has been reading them on his own for a few years now. The series covers all sorts of key figures in history, but there are also What Was…? books that cover key historical events.

2. The Childhood of Famous Americans Series

What sets these books apart from other biography books for kids is that they focus on the childhoods of famous Americans. These are some of my kiddo’s favorite history books!

3. Blast to the Past Series

We’ve recently discovered these Blast to the Past books and are loving them! Think fiction meets history, but not in a historical fiction way. Instead, modern characters step back into historical moments and help key figures face various problems.

4. Magic Tree House

There’s no way I could leave Jack and Annie off of a list of history books for kids! Like the Blast to the Past series, Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House focuses on the adventures of modern kids who magically travel to all kinds of places and times.

There are more than fifty of these fun and surprisingly educational books. If your kids are the kind to get hooked on a series, Magic Tree House would keep them busy for a long, long time!

5. Dear America

The Dear America books are journal-style books written from the perspective of a child from various points in history.

6. My America

These My America books are considered a part of the Dear America series, but are still categorized separately (or at least they are at all of our libraries!). They’re also journal-style books that help kids step inside the lives of other children throughout history.

7. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker

We love Magic Tree House Fact Trackers! These are non-fiction books that go along with the Magic Tree House adventures and they’ve been a huge part of our homeschool history. They’re not just for supplementing history topics, though! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found my son reading these for fun.

8. If You Lived …

These If You Lived… books are exactly what the title implies: what it was like to live with specific people groups or to live during certain points in history. We used these books quite a bit in our early elementary years and loved the fact that they were easily found at our local libraries.

9. Landmark Books

The Landmark Books series is an older living book series that primarily covers events in American history.

10. The Little House Collection

If you’re looking for a series that highlights life in the American Midwest during the 1800s, there’s no better choice than the Little House collection!

11. The American Girls Collection

While my daughter isn’t quite old enough to get into these American Girls books, I can easily see them becoming a staple in our reading time at some point. This huge collection is divided into smaller collections based on the life of an American Girl character. Within each smaller collection, readers get to experience what life was like in the United States during various points of history.

12. You Wouldn’t Want To Be Series

The You Wouldn’t Want to Be books are non-fiction history books for kids who don’t love history (and certainly those who do love it as well)! The graphics are great, the information is engaging, and the overall approach is fantastic. If you haven’t checked into this series yet, you’re missing some fun stuff!

13. Heroes of History

This Heroes of History biography series is told from a narrative perspective and is a favorite among many families I know. If you’re looking for a biography series that appeals to your entire family, this is the one to consider.

14. Trailblazers

This series of history books for kids follows the lives of Christians pioneers all over the world.

15. Adventures in Odyssey: Imagination Station

These Adventures in Odyssey books are some of our favorites. Readers will voyage with vikings, visit the Roman Colosseum, and even come face to face with one of Herod’s soldiers on the night of Christ’s birth over the course of this series.

16. 101 History Facts Series

I stumbled upon this 101 History Facts series while exploring my Kindle options, but I’ve been surprised by how much we’ve enjoyed it. These books are reasonably priced and have lots of great topical information and resources.

17. For Kids Series

This For Kids series digs into history like no others on this list of history books for kids. Not only does it give biographical information for person or event showcased, it also includes activities and suggestions for further learning and exploration. We love these books!

18. Religious Heritage Series

We started reading these living books from Louise Vernon’s Religious Heritage series last year and learned so much through them. This historical fiction series is a wonderful way to gain understanding of the lives of several heroes of the Christian faith.

19. Ordinary People Who Changed the World

Younger kids don’t have to miss out on the history fun! The Ordinary People Who Changed the World series explores the lives and impact of key figures in history, but does it in a fun and engaging way for little ones.

20. I Survived Series

From Pompeii to events in modern history, the I Survived series gives readers an opportunity to experience significant moments in history from the perspective of a child living through the events.

What are your favorite history books for kids? Do any of these series make your list of favorites?

Looking for more books to add to your homeschool shelves? Stop by iHomeschool Network and peruse The Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists.

This list was included in My Joy-Filled Life’s Top 100 Homeschool Posts of 2016.


At first, biographical writings were regarded merely as a subsection of history with a focus on a particular individual of historical importance. The independent genre of biography as distinct from general history writing, began to emerge in the 18th century and reached its contemporary form at the turn of the 20th century. [1]

Historical biography

One of the earliest biographers was Cornelius Nepos, who published his work Excellentium Imperatorum Vitae ("Lives of outstanding generals") in 44 BC. Longer and more extensive biographies were written in Greek by Plutarch, in his Parallel Lives, published about 80 A.D. In this work famous Greeks are paired with famous Romans, for example the orators Demosthenes and Cicero, or the generals Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar some fifty biographies from the work survive. Another well-known collection of ancient biographies is De vita Caesarum ("On the Lives of the Caesars") by Suetonius, written about AD 121 in the time of the emperor Hadrian.

In the early Middle Ages (AD 400 to 1450), there was a decline in awareness of the classical culture in Europe. During this time, the only repositories of knowledge and records of the early history in Europe were those of the Roman Catholic Church. Hermits, monks, and priests used this historic period to write biographies. Their subjects were usually restricted to the church fathers, martyrs, popes, and saints. Their works were meant to be inspirational to the people and vehicles for conversion to Christianity (see Hagiography). One significant secular example of a biography from this period is the life of Charlemagne by his courtier Einhard.

In Medieval Islamic Civilization (c. AD 750 to 1258), similar traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad and other important figures in the early history of Islam began to be written, beginning the Prophetic biography tradition. Early biographical dictionaries were published as compendia of famous Islamic personalities from the 9th century onwards. They contained more social data for a large segment of the population than other works of that period. The earliest biographical dictionaries initially focused on the lives of the prophets of Islam and their companions, with one of these early examples being The Book of The Major Classes by Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi. And then began the documentation of the lives of many other historical figures (from rulers to scholars) who lived in the medieval Islamic world. [2]

By the late Middle Ages, biographies became less church-oriented in Europe as biographies of kings, knights, and tyrants began to appear. The most famous of such biographies was Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. The book was an account of the life of the fabled King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Following Malory, the new emphasis on humanism during the Renaissance promoted a focus on secular subjects, such as artists and poets, and encouraged writing in the vernacular.

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists (1550) was the landmark biography focusing on secular lives. Vasari made celebrities of his subjects, as the Lives became an early "bestseller". Two other developments are noteworthy: the development of the printing press in the 15th century and the gradual increase in literacy.

Biographies in the English language began appearing during the reign of Henry VIII. John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (1563), better known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, was essentially the first dictionary of the biography in Europe, followed by Thomas Fuller's The History of the Worthies of England (1662), with a distinct focus on public life.

Influential in shaping popular conceptions of pirates, A General History of the Pyrates (1724), by Charles Johnson, is the prime source for the biographies of many well-known pirates. [3]

A notable early collection of biographies of eminent men and women in the United Kingdom was Biographia Britannica (1747-1766) edited by William Oldys.

The American biography followed the English model, incorporating Thomas Carlyle's view that biography was a part of history. Carlyle asserted that the lives of great human beings were essential to understanding society and its institutions. While the historical impulse would remain a strong element in early American biography, American writers carved out a distinct approach. What emerged was a rather didactic form of biography, which sought to shape the individual character of a reader in the process of defining national character. [4] [5]

Emergence of the genre

The first modern biography, and a work which exerted considerable influence on the evolution of the genre, was James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson, a biography of lexicographer and man-of-letters Samuel Johnson published in 1791. [6] [ unreliable source? ] [7] [8]

While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. Itself an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography, it has been claimed to be the greatest biography written in the English language. Boswell's work was unique in its level of research, which involved archival study, eye-witness accounts and interviews, its robust and attractive narrative, and its honest depiction of all aspects of Johnson's life and character - a formula which serves as the basis of biographical literature to this day. [9]

Biographical writing generally stagnated during the 19th century - in many cases there was a reversal to the more familiar hagiographical method of eulogizing the dead, similar to the biographies of saints produced in Medieval times. A distinction between mass biography and literary biography began to form by the middle of the century, reflecting a breach between high culture and middle-class culture. However, the number of biographies in print experienced a rapid growth, thanks to an expanding reading public. This revolution in publishing made books available to a larger audience of readers. In addition, affordable paperback editions of popular biographies were published for the first time. Periodicals began publishing a sequence of biographical sketches. [10]

Autobiographies became more popular, as with the rise of education and cheap printing, modern concepts of fame and celebrity began to develop. Autobiographies were written by authors, such as Charles Dickens (who incorporated autobiographical elements in his novels) and Anthony Trollope, (his Autobiography appeared posthumously, quickly becoming a bestseller in London [11] ), philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill, churchmen – John Henry Newman – and entertainers – P. T. Barnum.

Modern biography

The sciences of psychology and sociology were ascendant at the turn of the 20th century and would heavily influence the new century's biographies. [12] The demise of the "great man" theory of history was indicative of the emerging mindset. Human behavior would be explained through Darwinian theories. "Sociological" biographies conceived of their subjects' actions as the result of the environment, and tended to downplay individuality. The development of psychoanalysis led to a more penetrating and comprehensive understanding of the biographical subject, and induced biographers to give more emphasis to childhood and adolescence. Clearly these psychological ideas were changing the way biographies were written, as a culture of autobiography developed, in which the telling of one's own story became a form of therapy. [10] The conventional concept of heroes and narratives of success disappeared in the obsession with psychological explorations of personality.

British critic Lytton Strachey revolutionized the art of biographical writing with his 1918 work Eminent Victorians, consisting of biographies of four leading figures from the Victorian era: Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold, and General Gordon. [13] Strachey set out to breathe life into the Victorian era for future generations to read. Up until this point, as Strachey remarked in the preface, Victorian biographies had been "as familiar as the cortège of the undertaker", and wore the same air of "slow, funereal barbarism." Strachey defied the tradition of "two fat volumes . of undigested masses of material" and took aim at the four iconic figures. His narrative demolished the myths that had built up around these cherished national heroes, whom he regarded as no better than a "set of mouth bungled hypocrites". The book achieved worldwide fame due to its irreverent and witty style, its concise and factually accurate nature, and its artistic prose. [14]

In the 1920s and '30s, biographical writers sought to capitalize on Strachey's popularity by imitating his style. This new school featured iconoclasts, scientific analysts, and fictional biographers and included Gamaliel Bradford, André Maurois, and Emil Ludwig, among others. Robert Graves (I, Claudius, 1934) stood out among those following Strachey's model of "debunking biographies." The trend in literary biography was accompanied in popular biography by a sort of "celebrity voyeurism", in the early decades of the century. This latter form's appeal to readers was based on curiosity more than morality or patriotism. By World War I, cheap hard-cover reprints had become popular. The decades of the 1920s witnessed a biographical "boom."

The feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun observed that women's biographies and autobiographies began to change character during the second wave of feminist activism. She cited Nancy Milford's 1970 biography Zelda, as the "beginning of a new period of women's biography, because "[only] in 1970 were we ready to read not that Zelda had destroyed Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald her: he had usurped her narrative." Heilbrun named 1973 as the turning point in women's autobiography, with the publication of May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude, for that was the first instance where a woman told her life story, not as finding "beauty even in pain" and transforming "rage into spiritual acceptance," but acknowledging what had previously been forbidden to women: their pain, their rage, and their "open admission of the desire for power and control over one's life." [15]

Recent years

In recent years, multimedia biography has become more popular than traditional literary forms. Along with documentary biographical films, Hollywood produced numerous commercial films based on the lives of famous people. The popularity of these forms of biography have led to the proliferation of TV channels dedicated to biography, including A&E, The Biography Channel, and The History Channel.

CD-ROM and online biographies have also appeared. Unlike books and films, they often do not tell a chronological narrative: instead they are archives of many discrete media elements related to an individual person, including video clips, photographs, and text articles. Biography-Portraits were created in 2001, by the German artist Ralph Ueltzhoeffer. Media scholar Lev Manovich says that such archives exemplify the database form, allowing users to navigate the materials in many ways. [16] General "life writing" techniques are a subject of scholarly study. [17]

In recent years, debates have arisen as to whether all biographies are fiction, especially when authors are writing about figures from the past. President of Wolfson College at Oxford University, Hermione Lee argues that all history is seen through a perspective that is the product of one's contemporary society and as a result, biographical truths are constantly shifting. So, the history biographers write about will not be the way that it happened it will be the way they remembered it. [18] Debates have also arisen concerning the importance of space in life-writing. [19]

Daniel R. Meister in 2017 argued that:

Biography Studies is emerging as an independent discipline, especially in the Netherlands. This Dutch School of biography is moving biography studies away from the less scholarly life writing tradition and towards history by encouraging its practitioners to utilize an approach adapted from microhistory. [20]

Biographical research

Biographical research is defined by Miller as a research method that collects and analyses a person's whole life, or portion of a life, through the in-depth and unstructured interview, or sometimes reinforced by semi-structured interview or personal documents. [21] It is a way of viewing social life in procedural terms, rather than static terms. The information can come from "oral history, personal narrative, biography and autobiography” or "diaries, letters, memoranda and other materials". [22] The central aim of biographical research is to produce rich descriptions of persons or "conceptualise structural types of actions", which means to "understand the action logics or how persons and structures are interlinked". [23] This method can be used to understand an individual's life within its social context or understand the cultural phenomena.

Critical issues

There are many largely unacknowledged pitfalls to writing good biographies, and these largely concern the relation between firstly the individual and the context, and, secondly, the private and public. Paul James writes:

The problems with such conventional biographies are manifold. Biographies usually treat the public as a reflection of the private, with the private realm being assumed to be foundational. This is strange given that biographies are most often written about public people who project a persona. That is, for such subjects the dominant passages of the presentation of themselves in everyday life are already formed by what might be called a ‘self-biofication’ process. [24]

Several countries offer an annual prize for writing a biography such as the:

10 Great Picture Book Biographies

This list of picture book biographies is sponsored by Owlkids Books, publisher of A Likkle Miss Lou and other children&rsquos books.

A Kirkus Reviews most anticipated picture book of fall 2019. The uplifting story of a girl finding her own voice, A Likkle Miss Lou is a modern ode to language, girl power, diversity, and the arts. Louise Bennett Coverley, or Miss Lou, was an iconic entertainer known for popularizing patois in the arts&mdashhelping to pave the way for artists like Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley. This picture book tells the story of Miss Lou&rsquos childhood in Jamaica, trying to find her own voice. &ldquoThis joyful book celebrates the importance of language and taking it as your own.&rdquo &mdashKirkus Reviews

The best picture book biographies introduce children to the person they might want to become one day. For girls, this is particularly important, as they can see female role models who exemplify courage, innovation, kindness, creativity, and other qualities in fields that are often male-dominated. Now more than ever, new picture books celebrate diverse female leaders whose stories have been overlooked, elevating their stories into the spotlight. This list showcases ten great recent picture book biographies by and about trailblazing women&mdashget ready to inspire the young reader in your life.

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, Illustrated by John Parra

Monica Brown&rsquos acclaimed biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo creates an entryway into the revolutionary painter&rsquos life by building on Kahlo&rsquos love for animals. Over the years, Kahlo kept several pets including a black cat, a parrot, two monkeys, a fawn, turkeys, and even an eagle. Brown juxtaposes the &ldquoanimalitos&rdquo alongside Kahlo, showing how she exemplified some of their qualities. This picture book also details how Kahlo&rsquos interest in Mexican and Aztec culture and history weaved into her art and love for animals.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James E. Ransome

The iconic sisters Venus and Serena Williams are athletes for the ages. In Game Changers, Lesa Cline-Ransome lets readers into the lives of these the Williams sisters, immersing us in their early training and ascent to the top of tennis. Cline-Ransome doesn&rsquot shy away from the discrimination Venus and Serena faced as people of color, and instead shows how the sisters changed the conversation with their once-in-a-generation skills.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley

A champion of neurodiversity, Dr. Temple Grandin received her autism diagnosis young. In The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, Julia Finley Mosca dials into Temple&rsquos childhood as a young neurodiverse person, one whose creative thinking led to world-changing insights and discoveries. Mosca celebrates Grandin&rsquos divergent thinking while also helping readers understand the stress of sensory overload and physical contact. The playfully rhyming text is catchy and fun, perfect for readers who enjoy rhythm in their picture books.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Annika Aldamuy Denise, Illustrated by Paola Escobar

Introduce children to the power of libraries&mdashand the bold, compassionate librarians who lead them&mdashwith Planting Stories. This diverse picture book biography illuminates New York Public Library&rsquos first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpré. After her immigration to America in 1921, Bulpré took a job in New York City&rsquos public library system, advocating for bilingual materials and leading inclusive story times. Kids reading Planting Stories will appreciate the ways that libraries are vital resources for communities. Planting Stories weaves in Spanish language, and a Spanish edition is also available.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean&rsquos most fearless scientist by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

Aquariums are wondrous places, especially for children who are captivated by the surreal scenes and mysterious creatures drifting through the water. For Japanese American Eugenie Clark, seeing a shark tank was a formative experience. From that day on, Clark was obsessed with sharks. At a time when a career in science was largely limited to men, Clark became an ichthyologist (a scientist who specializes in fish) and gathered crucial research on sharks. Known as &ldquoShark Lady,&rdquo Clark helped establish methods of scuba diving for research. In Shark Lady, readers learn of Clark&rsquos background and career, including her efforts to promote marine conservation.

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton and Felicita Sala

The legendary origins of Mary Shelley&rsquos Frankenstein are brought to life in this excellent picture book biography. With Sala&rsquos moody, atmospheric illustrations, Fulton sets the stage for the now-famous contest when poet Lord Byron challenged other writers to create a ghost story. In She Made a Monster, Fulton teases out the threads of influence that Mary Shelley would draw on to craft her chilling tale, an early work of science fiction and horror. Here we see Shelley yearning to live up to her mother, an acclaimed feminist, and her father, a notable author.

Turning Pages by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Lulu Delacre

I&rsquoll never forget when I heard that Sonia Sotomayor had been named to the Supreme Court. The first Hispanic and Latina justice on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor is also one of only four women to serve as Justice on the Court&rsquos history. The announcement that her nomination was confirmed gave me hope that we will see more diverse leaders shaping the country. In Turning Pages, Justice Sotomayor tells the story of her personal journey to get to the Supreme Court. Turning Pages empowers kids to see how they can take their earliest steps on a path to a place where they break barriers.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Ekua Holmes

A Caldecott Honor Book, this biography tells the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights leader. Hamer played a crucial role in the Freedom Summer of 1964 and gave an influential, televised speech at the 19654 Democratic National Convention to raise awareness of the Freedom Democrats, which she helped found. Weatherford&rsquos poetic writing is expertly paired to Ekua Holmes&rsquos vibrant mixed media illustration.

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

The first time I visited the Guggenheim Museum was a mind-bending experience. Seeing the breathtaking designs of the late Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid made me reconsider the way I see the world. In The World Is Not a Rectangle, Jeanette Winter introduces young readers to the remarkable life and work of this visionary artist. Winter charts how the sights of Hadid&rsquos childhood&mdashPersian carpet design, Iraqi landscapes, and more&mdashmade an impression on Hadid and shaped her style as she blossomed into a leading architect. This Washington Post Best Children&rsquos Book of 2017 also addresses the skepticism and doubt Hadid faced as a Muslim woman in a white male-dominated industry.

Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuki and Ellen Weinstein

This vivid picture book biography of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is authored by Sarah Suzuki, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. On one pivotal day of her childhood in Japan, Kusama had a striking vision that the entire world was covered in polka dots. Influenced by Abstract impressionism, Kusuma later studied art, developing her look. Working with dots became her signature in a long career that has spanned everything from painting to poetry and performance art. In From Here to Infinity, readers are treated to Suzuki&rsquos expert take on Kusama&rsquos life, with punchy illustrations by Ellen Weinstein.

For more Book Riot coverage of diverse and feminist children&rsquos books, check out:

The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created

By Jane Leavy

Well, finally, we’ve got Jane Leavy and The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created. Why did you select this book for the 2019 biography shortlist?

Yes, back to your last thought. There’s also a great interest with The Big Fella in this day and age where athletes are such celebrities. Babe Ruth was an extraordinary baseball player and Leavy makes that case in the context of the emergence of athletic stardom and celebrity. This is not a mere recounting of statistics Leavy gives Babe Ruth a place in cultural history.

Leavy zeroes in on the agent who set the great baseball player on a nationwide tour, a sort of barnstorming. Essentially, in that radio age, Babe Ruth campaigned to be a modern celebrity.

With this fifth 2019 finalist, one can discern a theme in these biographies. These are figures who were attuned to celebrity and to its unique power. Financial reward was part of this calibration, certainly, but with that came the imprimatur of success and a place in history.

Leavy is already an award-winning sports writer. She has written biographies of baseball icons Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax. But will non-sports-experts still enjoy this new biography?

Speaking as one who personally prefers reading to watching athletic competitions and has always actively avoided any games with round objects, Leavy is an invaluable guide through the world of America’s greatest pastime. I think there is enough baseball for the hard-core aficionados, but this is biography as cultural history. Again, the themes of celebrity develop through Ruth’s slightly creepy agent, but it’s also about a boy with a talent, basically an orphan who went on to great success. In many ways, this is a classic rags to riches story, albeit one with an able assist from a canny agent who came from advertising and was comfortable pitching products.

“Isn’t God supposed to be dead? Or is it poetry?”

Leavy focuses his biography on the ‘barnstorming tour’ after the 1927 World Series, when huge numbers of people came out to see Ruth and he developed a hold on the American imagination. Avoiding the minutiae about player statistics, rivalries, trades and the nuances of strategy, Leavy focuses on what was happening behind the scenes.

She also deals really well with the scandals in his life, including his philandering. She recognises his eagerness to appear with African Americans when it was a fairly brave thing to do. You see him as a kind of limited guy, but also one who came from a horrific childhood so that it was amazing that he made it to where he did, I think.

To bring our discussion to a close, a final question. Every few years, someone declares a biography dead, and yet here we are. So how would you describe the state of biography as a genre?

You’re right! Isn’t God supposed to be dead? Or is it poetry? As I reflect over the last years judging biographies, I really do believe that biography as a genre is flourishing and far from wilting away.

Please keep in mind that there’s a bit of self-interest at work here—I’m working on a collective biography right now. My sense is that the old-fashioned, cradle-to-grave biographies of Great Men that weigh in at 1,000 pages may be vanishing, but there seems to be a genuine curiosity about how others have tried to make sense of the world.

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Biographers have benefited by the proliferation of resources made accessible by technology. There is no substitute for walking in the footsteps of those about whom we are writing, but now we can spend time going to these places rather than devoting days to ill-functioning microfiche machines in freezing cold archives.

Until recently, the NBCC placed autobiography/memoir and biography in a single committee. My initial fret about separating them into two weaker categories was unfounded because there’s been a real resurgence in high-quality biographies, and prizes that reward them. There’s also a wonderful group called Bio, the Biographers International Organisation, that goes beyond prizes and supports the genre with resources and a conference devoted to the craft of biography.

So, onward biography! And to deciding which of these five wonderful biography finalists will be chosen collectively by the National Book Critics Circle to win the 2019 award in Biography. There were so many other truly excellent biographies this year and so many of them deserve more attention.

To answer your question: Biography is far from dead. Biography, like so much literature, evolves and flourishes. As long as we have discerning readers, they will push and elevate the writing and newly energised methods of research and reporting that yield excellent new biographies.

The National Book Critics Circle winners will be announced in a public ceremony on March 14, 2019, following a reading by finalists on March 13, 2019.

Watch the video: Albert Einstein Biography in English