Lyndall Gordon, Biographer
Lyndall Gordon grew up in Cape Town where she studied history and English, then nineteenth-century American literature at Columbia in New York. In 1973 she came to England through the Rhodes Trust. For many years she was a tutor and lecturer in English at Oxford where she is now Senior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College.
The first of her biographies, Eliot's Early Years (1977), began as a student thesis. The British Academy awarded it the Rose Mary Crawshay prize. A sequel, Eliot's New Life, was published at the time of the poet’s centenary (1988). The two books have been rewritten as one, The Imperfect Life of T.S.Eliot, and published by Virago. Henry James: His Women and His Art is updated and reissued at the same time (see 'New' below). Virago has also brought out revised editions of Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life (awarded the James Tait Black prize for biography) and Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life (Cheltenham prize for literature).
A memoir of three women who died young, Shared Lives (reissued by Virago), is about women's friendship going back to schooldays in the Cape Town of the fifties. A new memoir, Divided Lives: Dreams of a Mother and Daughter, will be published by Virago in 2014. A daughter, in childhood, is called on to be a secret sharer of her mother’s illness and creativity. Here are kin who are alike as dreamers, whose dreams will take them different ways: the mother as visionary, the daughter exploring the question of how to be a woman..
Lyndall is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and member of PEN. She is married to Professor of Cellular Pathology, Siamon Gordon; they live in Oxford and have two grown-up daughters.
New: Two Reissues from Virago
Henry James: His Women and His Art
James's friendship with Constance Fenimore Woolson ended in 1894 when he tried to drown a boatload of her dresses in the Venetian lagoon; she had fallen to her death three months before. It was an elusive friendship that echoed his mysterious relationship with Minny Temple who had died twenty years earlier. From their graves, these two women haunted his imagination and his fiction, inspiring the creation of his heroines.
'All Jamesians will want to read Lyndall Gordon, for the breadth of her knowledge and sympathies, for the way she makes us think again about Henry James.' Claire Tomalin
'Gordon is superbly interesting about James as an artist...The best single book about him.' Colm Tóibín
'Wonderfully full-blooded...A brilliant idea...superbly enjoyable material, much of it unfamiliar, all of it stimulating' Philip Horne, Guardian
'Imaginative and risky...A magnificent, important book' Kathryn Hughes, Literary Review
The Imperfect Life of T.S.Eliot
Eliot once spoke of a lifetime burning in every moment. He had the mind to conceive a perfect life, and he also had the honesty to admit that he could not meet it. This biography follows the trials of a searcher whose flaws and doubts speak to all of us whose lives are imperfect.
'Daring, strong and psychologically brilliant' Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker
'Writing with judicious sympathy and an intimate knowledge of his poetry and plays, Ms Gordon artfully moves back and forth between the life and the work, creating a subtle portrait of Eliot as a Jamesian hero torn between memory and desire, worldly happiness and a more rarefied world of the spirit' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
'Always revealing and interesting' Stephen Spender