Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot


Carole Seymour-Jones - 2001
    Eliot, gives a voice to the woman who, for seventeen years, had shared a unique literary partnership with Eliot but who was scapegoated for the failure of the marriage and all but obliterated from historical record. In so doing, Painted Shadow opens the way to a new understanding of Eliot’s poetry.Vivienne longed to tell her whole story; she wrote in her diary: “You who in later years will read these very words of mine will be able to trace a true history of this epoch.” She believed (as did Virginia Woolf) that she was Eliot’s muse, the woman through whom he transmuted life into art. Yet Vivienne knew the secrets of his separate and secret life — which contributed to her own deepening hysteria, drug addiction, and final abandonment: the tragedy of a marriage that paired a repressed yet sensual man with an extroverted woman who longed for a full sexual relationship with her husband.Out of this emotional turbulence came one of the most important English poems of the twentieth century: The Waste Land, which Carole Seymour-Jones convincingly shows cannot be fully understood without reference to the relationship of the poet and his first wife. Drawing on papers both privately owned and in university library archives and, most importantly, on Vivienne Eliot’s own journals left to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Carole Seymour-Jones uses many hitherto unpublished sources and opens the way to a new understanding of Eliot’s poetry.

Robert Frost: A Life


Jay Parini - 1998
    Jay Parini spent over twenty years interviewing friends of Robert Frost and working in the poet's archives at Dartmouth, Amherst, and elsewhere to produce this definitive and insightful biography of both the public and private man. While he depicts the various stages of Frost's colorful life, Parini also sensitively explores the poet's psyche, showing how he dealt with adversity, family tragedy, and depression. By taking the reader into the poetry itself, which he reads closely and brilliantly, Parini offers an insightful road map to Frost's remarkable world.

Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet


Elaine Feinstein - 2001
    His marriage to the poet Sylvia Plath marked his whole life, and he never entirely recovered from her suicide in 1963. Many people have held his adultery responsible for Plath's death; in this insightful book, Elaine Feinstein explores an altogether more complex situation, and throws a sad new light on his relationship with his lover Assia Wevill, who also killed herself along with their young daughter.Drawing on extensive archival material and interviews with childhood friends, fellow undergraduates, poets, and critics, Feinstein gives a portrait of a large-spirited, magnetic personality intrigued by the forms of magical experience that preoccupied Shakespeare and Yeats, but who was nevertheless a down-to-earth Yorkshire man, whose poetic vision encompassed not only his love of the natural world but also all the evidence of human brutality in the past century.

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath


Anne Stevenson - 1989
    In a book that The New Yorker's Janet Malcolm called "by far the most intelligent and the only aesthetically satisfying" Plath biography, the poet Anne Stevenson narrates and illuminates the ways in which Sylvia Plath created her own legend in life and in poetry, one at odds with the posthumous myth that has grown up around her since her suicide in 1963.

Edith Wharton


R.W.B. Lewis - 1975
    This an American writer."--The New York Times Book Review.

Dangerous Muse: The Life Of Lady Caroline Blackwood


Nancy Schoenberger - 2001
    She is the mermaid of whom poet Robert Lowell writes in The Dolphin (and he was clutching her portrait when he died). She was Lady Caroline Blackwood, legendarily witty and alluring but also a legendary drunk. Raised an heiress to the Guinness fortune, Blackwood (1931-1996) moved easily among the aristocracy, the bohemians of postwar England and the liberal intelligentsia of 1960s New York. She has been called a muse to genius-though her marriages to Lucian Freud, the composer Israel Citkowitz, and Robert Lowell were as troubled as they were inspiring-and she was an author herself, short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1977. In this first biography of Blackwood, Nancy Schoenberger deftly paints a complex woman who was captivating to her dying day.

Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton


Linda Gray Sexton - 1994
    Linda Sexton was twenty-one when her mother killed herself, and now she looks back, remembers, and tries to come to terms with her mother's life.Life with Anne was a wild mixture of suicidal depression and manic happiness, inappropriate behavior, and midnight trips to the psychiatric ward. Anne taught Linda how to write, how to see, how to imagine--and only Linda could have written a book that captures so vividly the intimate details and lingering emotions of their life together. "Searching for Mercy Street" speaks to everyone who admires Anne Sexton and to every daughter or son who knows the pain of an imperfect childhood. This beautiful new trade paperback edition includes a new introduction by the author.

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character


Kay Redfield Jamison - 2017
    As Dr. Jamison brings her expertise in mood disorders to bear on Lowell's story, she illuminates not only the relationships among mania, depression, and creativity but also the details of Lowell's treatment and how illness and treatment influenced the great work that he produced (and often became its subject). Lowell's New England roots, early breakdowns, marriages to three eminent writers, friendships with other poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, his many hospitalizations, his vivid presence as both a teacher and a maker of poems--Jamison gives us the poet's life through a lens that focuses our understanding of his intense discipline, courage, and commitment to his art. Jamison had unprecedented access to Lowell's medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and she is the first biographer to have spoken with his daughter, Harriet Lowell. With this new material and a psychologist's deep insight, Jamison delivers a bold, sympathetic account of a poet who was--both despite and because of mental illness--a passionate, original observer of the human condition.

The Strange Birds of Flannery O'Connor


Amy Alznauer - 2020
    She'd watch their wings flap, their beaks peck, and their eyes glint. At age six, her life was forever changed when she and a chicken she had been training to walk forwards and backwards were featured in the Path� News, and she realized that people want to see what is odd and strange in life. But while she loved birds of all varieties and kept several species around the house, it was the peacocks that came to dominate her life. Written by Amy Alznauer with devotional attention to all things odd and illustrated in radiant paint by Ping Zhu, The Strange Birds of Flannery O'Connor explores the beginnings of one author's lifelong obsession.Amy Alznauer lives in Chicago with her husband, two children, a dog, a parakeet, sometimes chicks, and a part-time fish, but, as of today, no elephants or peacocks.Ping Zhu is a freelance illustrator who has worked with clients big and small, won some awards based on the work she did for aforementioned clients, attracted new clients with shiny awards, and is hoping to maintain her livelihood in Brooklyn by repeating that cycle.

Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973


Clinton Heylin - 2009
    Here you’ll find not just opinionated commentary or literary interpretation, but facts, first and foremost. Clinton Heylin is the world’s leading Dylan biographer and expert, and he has arranged the songs--including a number that have never been performed--in a continually surprising chronology of when they were actually written rather than when they appeared on albums. Using newly discovered manuscripts, anecdotal evidence, and a seemingly limitless knowledge of every Bob Dylan live performance, he has uncovered a wealth of information about the songs, leaving no stone unturned in his research.            Here we learn that the middle verse of “Blowin’ in the Wind” was written much later than the first and third verses; that “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” was based on a complete distortion of the facts of the case; that “Mixed Up Confusion,” despite being Dylan’s first single, was composed later than many of his early masterpieces; that “Fourth Time Around” was a direct response to John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood”; and much more.            Reading this volume will fundamentally change how you hear Dylan’s songs and will make you want to revisit the man’s lesser-known masterpieces. This is an essential purchase for every true Bob Dylan fan--and perhaps your most essential purchase, for, as a guide to the man’s work, it will never be surpassed.

Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness


Edward Butscher - 1976
    This is the first full-length biography of Sylvia Plath, whose suicide in made her a misinterpreted cause celebre and catapulted her into the ranks of the major confessional voices of her generation.

The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth


Frances Wilson - 2008
    She would never recover, changing over time from what Thomas de Quincey described as "the very wildest person I have ever known" to a recluse.But this handmaiden to her brother and his close friend Coleridge was herself a writer of spectacular originality. Both men borrowed her imagery—hammered out on their epic walks across the English countryside—for the best of their work. Her words survive intact in the Grasmere Journals, which record the Wordsworths’ life of severe asceticism mixed with an ecstatic communion with nature. In this inspired close reading of the journals, Frances Wilson reconstructs the rich and strange emotional life of a woman too often dismissed as a self-effacing saint. It is a feat of imaginative biography.

Sigmund Freud


Ralph Steadman - 1979
    The result is a masterful interplay of text and illustration, visual and verbal puns, and unexpected insight.Sigmund Freud bursts defiantly and gleefully beyond the bounds of orthodox biography. It is a wildly humorous exercise in bending, stretching and speculating on the activities of the so-called Father of Psychoanalysis. Ralph Steadman wields his shrewd wit and fierce pen to highlight the ebbs and tides of Freud's life and career from early childhood to the moment of death.But there's a twist. Rich illustrations and witty text work hand in hand to transform each scene into a "joking situation," which the artist hilariously examines according to the techniques wielded by Freud himself in his 1905 book on humor and the unconscious mind. The result is a fantastic Freudian festival of visual and verbal puns, unexpected insights, and sheer intellectual enjoyment.Originally published in hardcover in 1979, released in paperback in 1997, and reprinted numerous times since then, we are presenting it again to remind buyers that Freud has not and will not leave the unconscious mind of the public (and he would likely have something to say about what books they buy).Sigmund Freud is superbly illustrated with more than 50 major drawings and 25 vignettes by a renowned master of the pen. It remains one of the most original illustrated books of our times and a Ralph Steadman classic.

Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted


Andrew Wilson - 2013
    This encounter—now one of the most famous in all of literary history—was recorded by Plath in her journal, where she described Hughes as a “big, dark, hunky boy.” Sylvia viewed Ted as something of a colossus, and to this day his enormous shadow has obscured her life and work. The sensational aspects of the Plath-Hughes relationship have dominated the cultural landscape to such an extent that their story has taken on the resonance of a modern myth.Before she met Ted, Plath had lived a complex, creative, and disturbing life. Her father had died when she was only eight; she had gone out with literally hundreds of men, had been unofficially engaged, had tried to commit suicide, and had written more than two hundred poems. Mad Girl’s Love Song chronicles these early years, traces the sources of her mental instability, and examines how a range of personal, economic, and societal factors—the real disquieting muses— conspired against her.Drawing on exclusive interviews with friends and lovers who have never spoken openly about Plath before and using previously unavailable archives and papers, this is the first book to focus on the early life of the twentieth century’s most popular and enduring female poet. Mad Girl’s Love Song reclaims Sylvia Plath from the tangle of emotions associated with her relationship with Ted Hughes and reveals the origins of her unsettled and unsettling voice.

You Might as Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker


John Keats - 1970
    It is an intriguing story, sad in many ways, but never less than interesting. Parker is still read widely all these years after her heyday, and she is remembered as a leading figure at the famous Round Table lunches at the Algonquin Hotel in New York.The book first appeared in Britain in 1971 when published by Secker & Warburg.