Books

Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

Virago and Penguin, NY/Kindle e-book

Short-listed for the Duff Cooper Prize and one of three biographies short-listed for Italy’s Comisso Prize.

front cover of Lives Like Loaded Guns: UK cover front cover of Lives Like Loaded Guns: American cover front cover of Come un fucile carico: La vita di Emily Dickinson

This story approaches Emily Dickinson by way of feuds in her family, beginning in the poet's lifetime. The feuds exploded over adultery, but came to focus on the poet herself. Rival camps claimed her legend and shot each other down over the course of three generations.

‘unforcedly and powerfully original’
Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
‘this story of the terrible fascination Dickinson exerted on her heirs is as rich as a novel by Henry James. ...Perhaps for the first time since Dickinson’s death, [this book] invites us to meet the poet head-on’
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph
‘makes you read Dickinson again with polished eyes’
Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
‘ takes the lid off the violent emotional life of the Dickinson family and its far-reaching effects on the poet's work... an entirely new reading of Dickinson's life with this brilliant tale of turbulence both on and off the page, a situation as intricate as any in the novels of Henry James, where the greatest force lies in what is hidden'
Claire Harman, Literary Review
‘it's a scorcher… everything about it makes me want to sing’
literary blogger Dovegreyreader
‘gives Emily Dickinson the startling clarity of one of her own poems’
Frances Wilson, Sunday Times

UK ISBN 978-1-84408-454-8; US ISBN 978-0-14-311914-2

Italian translation: Come un fucile carico: La vita di Emily Dickinson

Fazi, Rome
ISBN-10: 886411243X
ISBN-13: 9788864112435

Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft

Virago and Harper, NY/Kindle e-book

front cover of Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft front cover of Vindication: A Life of Mary Wollstonecraft, US edition

The founder of modern feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was the most famous woman of her era, whose Vindication of the Rights of Woman influenced political thinking in Europe and newborn America. She saw herself as ‘a new genus’ of womanhood, and her adventurous life tested her strikingly modern notions of education, work, love and friendship. This biography is a vindication of a courageous woman whose reputation has suffered over the years, and follows the reverberations of her interrupted life in the lives of four followers in the next generation, including her daughter, Mary Shelley.

  • Long-listed for the Samuel Johnson prize. Selected by the New York Times as one of its 100 notable books of the year. Selected by the New York Public Library as one of their 25 books of the year.
'a rare phenomenon: a biographer whose preoccupations and authorial career reveal a flowering towards imaginative truth. This great biography is a biography of a time, a spirit, a way of thinking, that is brave, intelligent, independent and unless we are all soon for the dark, immortal.'
Candia McWilliam, Herald
'Wonderful and deeply sobering... relates Wollstonecraft's story with the same potent mixture of passion and reason her subject personified.'
New York Times Book Review
'... gently edging towards a new genus of biography. Its characteristics include an intense attempt to recover a subject's inner life, using imaginative empathy yet never stepping over the line to fiction, and an inclusion of the subject's afterlife, in children, memory, and imitation. Fascinating.
Timothy Garton Ash, 'A little night reading', Sunday Times

Vindication is also available as a Kindle e-book.

Contact Details: Lennie Goodings , ISBN 1 84408 141 9 pbk

Henry James: His Women and His Art

ISBN: 978-1-84408-892-8, Available on Kindle

front cover of Henry James: His Women and His Art
'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

Four novelists - David Lodge, Colm Toibin, Emma Tennant, and Melissa Jones - drew on this story of two women and Henry James, as does Michael Gorra's Portrait of a Novel.

Georges Borchardt

Isobel Dixon

The Imperfect Life of T.S.Eliot

Virago (revised) and Norton

Revised Virago edition available on kindle

Amalgamates Eliot's Early Years and Eliot's New Life together with new material gathered over thirty years.

front cover of The Imperfect Life of T.S.Eliot front cover of TS Eliot: An Imperfect Life

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 explores the divide between saint and sinner in the greatest poet of the twentieth century. The aim is to view Eliot from the vantage point of the twenty-first century, with a keener sense of his strangeness, his prejudice, and extremism, not to reduce Eliot to the level of others in his extremist century, but to follow the trials of a searcher whose flaws and doubts speak to all of us whose lives are imperfect

  • British Academy's Rose Mary Crawshay Prize; Southern Arts prize
  • Selected by the New York Public Library as one of 25 'Books to Remember' from 2000.
  • Selected by the Independent on Sunday as one of the '30 best biographies of the twentieth century'.
'The most valuable single book yet published about Eliot'
Jonathan Raban, Sunday Times
'...a model of its kind: authoritative, meticulously documented, sensitive alike to poetic and spiritual nuances.'
Times Educational Supplement
'...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
'daring strong, and psychologically brilliant'
Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker

UK: ISBN: 978-1-84408-893-5, US: ISBN 0-393-32093-6

Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life

Virago (revised) and Norton

front cover of Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life, front cover of Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life, US edition

This biography, substantially revised, sees Virginia Woolf as she saw herself. The first to set out the private life behind the well-known facts of her public career, A Writer's Life moves back and forth between memories and art to reveal an explorer of the 'infinite oddity of the human position'. Instead of the doom-and-death often imposed on women of genius, here is the robust walker and seeker for what was fertile in her intimacies, in women's nature, and in resistance to power. This edition brings out her ideas for biography itself: to fall on a life 'like a roll of heavy waters... laying bare the pebbles on the shore of the soul'.

  • James Tait Black prize for biography
'a masterpiece of the kind of intuitive biography in which Virginia Woolf herself believed.'
Times Higher Educational Supplement
'one of the most accomplished literary biographers of this generation'
British Book News
'sensitive and original'
Hermione Lee, TLS
'brave in its imaginative interpretations... has given us in this work what is essential to the biography of any writer: an analysis of those experiences about which they are silent.'
Carolyn Heilbrun, New York Times Book Review

UK publicity: Susan de Soissons ISBN 1 84408 142 7

US: Alane Mason ISBN 0-393-31448-0

Shared Lives

Virago

front cover of Shared Lives

The story of a group of girls who grew up in Cape Town in the fifties. They were shaped by South Africa's past, the absurdities of a girls' school, and pressures to marry at an early age. At the centre of the group was Romy, the exuberant daughter of Jewish immigrants. We follow Romy's rebellious course and horror of weddings, Ellie's struggle with loneliness in her career as psychologist, and Rose's disappearance into marriage and motherhood. Three obscure women who died young and left nothing but their stories, letters, and memories, are brought to life.

'Here are the youthful dreams we all share, the follies and passionate connections, the interleaving of experience that brings us to some further truth'
Jane Dunn, Observer
'The Schlegel sisters of E.M.Forster's Howard's End would have admired...this rich, moving and witty book; her excavations of the past...really do enlighten us about the present.'
Nora Sayre, New York Times Book Review
'a riveting autobiographical memoir... It is the empathy and originality of that book which make her so suitable to write about the Brontës.'
Nuala OFaolain, Image (Ireland)

Lennie Goodings ISBN 1 84408 143 5

US: Georges Borchardt

Charlotte Brontë: a Passionate Life

Virago (revised and on kindle) and Norton

front cover of Charlotte Brontë: a Passionate Life front cover of Charlotte Brontë: a Passionate Life, US edition

'It would take a great deal to crush me.' Breaking with Brontë legend -- the slave to duty in the shadow of tombstones -- A Passionate Life reveals instead a fiery woman who shaped her own life and transformed it into art. How did she arrive at her understanding of passion from a woman's point of view? What did she gain from her feminist friend, Mary Taylor; from her demanding mentor, Monsieur Heger, and from her rising young publisher, George Smith? Could she adapt to a seemingly incongruous marriage? Among Victorians who liked women self-effacing, she preferred 'to walk invisible', hiding her 'natural home character'. Here is the real Charlotte Brontë: tart, ardent, and veering away from pathos, a survivor who turns loss to gain.

  • Cheltenham prize for literature
'A magnificent biography, focusing on the gaps and silences in CB's emotionally turbulent life. This is ... the best thing to be written about CB yet.'
Fiona MacCarthy, Observer
'...those who know little of the Brontës will find it riveting; for those who know more, it is compulsive.'
Elizabeth Jane Howard, Harper's & Queen
'I found LG's portraits of [George] Smith and his mother ... as vivid and masterly as Charlotte's own... convincing and deeply interesting about the last phase of Charlotte's life, her marriage.'
Jane Gardam, Spectator
'I've read nothing his year that has excited me as much... an inspired and unconventional biographer'
Joan Smith, Independent on Sunday

UK: Susan de Soissons ISBN 978-1-84408-472-2

US: Alane Mason , ISBN 0-393-31448-0