Why do writers write? How does their working day unfold, and what are the sources of their inspiration, ideas and characters?
If you love reading and you enjoy biographies, there are few greater pleasures than a sumptuous literary bio, memoir, or diary collection.
In the skilled hands of a well-researched biographer, our literary heroes come to life.
Lonely childhoods, broken marriages, greedy publishers and fierce rivalries, alcoholism, mental illness, poverty, temper tantrums, wild parties and bad crowds – these familiar forces in a writer’s own story emerge and recur again and again. Honestly, who needs fiction?
Friends and Rivals: Four Great Australian Writers
One of Australia’s most respected biographers turns her attention to four extraordinary women who rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Perhaps the least-known but most fascinating of the four is Barbara Baynton, whose stories of harsh rural life in a fledging European colony provided interesting counterpoints to her bush-obsessed male colleagues. As the Spectator once said of the book’s author, “‘Among living Australian biographers, only Philip Ayres matches Brenda Niall for painstaking research serving narratives at once spirited and judicious…Dr Niall ignores nothing.’’
The Making Of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels
What happens when two obscure British poets spend several months in the Somerset countryside, distracted only by walks and meals and long discussions about poetry?
With each new work, one raises the bar for the other until a new poetry movement is born and the lives of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are forever changed.
Adam Nicolson’s story examines the intense creative period which started in the summer of 1797 and ended in Autumn 1798.
Critical to the rise of this strain of English Romanticism was Dorothy Wordsworth, William’s sister, who prompted and prodded her 20-something companions in their discovery of the natural world.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Costa Biography Award, The Making of Poetry shines new light on old heroes.
Since she retired as the world’s greatest living travel writer, 93-year-old Jan Morris has found plenty of discussion topics within her own quiet, rural Welsh world.
Her latest collection of diary notes is, as the Guardian describes, “a beguilingly supple narrative, able to absorb all the contradictions and revisions that mark a long, well-remembered life”.
From the kindness of neighbours to tackling Anna Karenina, and the joy of watching Mrs Brown’s Boys on the telly, Morris’s observations are sweet treats to be enjoyed in peace and good humour.
Corrie Perkin is a Melbourne journalist and bookseller whose Hawksburn shop is still open via mybookshop.com.au. My Bookshop is also taking book orders on 03 9824 2990