Katherine Rundell's Biographies-with-a-difference

By Faber

Katherine Rundell's Biographies-with-a-difference

By Faber

Katherine Rundell has just been announced as the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2022!

"While I was writing about John Donne, I was trying to find ways to write about a long-dead man that wouldn't just feel like beginning at the birth and ploughing your way through to the death bed. He was so brilliant, so complicated and so pugilistically alive, and he needs books that lay out how magnificent and peculiar he was. These were some of the biographies I turned to, to see how you can take an old topic and make it galvanic and new."

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time

Craig Brown

£10.99 £10.44

Craig Brown's book about the Beatles is big - large enough to kill a man with - but is never once, at any second, boring; it's so witty, and so razor-sharp.

Zami: A New Spelling of my Name

Audre Lorde

£9.99 £9.49

Lorde called it 'biomythography': it encompasses myth, history, biography, fury, love. It's electric writing.

This Is Shakespeare: How to Read the World's Greatest Playwright

Emma Smith

£9.99 £9.49

Emma Smith writes brilliant, funny, irreverent books: she pushes aside details about dates and who-bought-who's-horse to show you how to find Shakespeare where he shines most: in his plays. This is my favourite book about Shakespeare.

Up in the Old Hotel

Joseph Mitchell

£12.99 £12.34

This is a biography of New York and its people, told in a series of monologues. It's one of the books I've read most hungrily: delicious and strange and as gripping as a thriller.

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

Frances Wilson


De Quincey was funny and odd and obsessive (he was, more or less, Wordsworth's stalker) and Frances Wilson's book is brilliant and unpredictable.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

James Baldwin

£9.99 £9.49

Baldwin's semi-autobiographical novel is still, I think, one of the finest things ever written: it's harsh and bold and full of love and sorrow, and the structure, which darts across flash backs and multiple character's perspectives, makes it feel like you have been in the presence of a great chorus of lives.

The Lost City of Z: A Legendary British Explorer's Deadly Quest to Uncover the Secrets of the Amazon

David Grann

£8.99 £8.54

This is the story of Percy Fawcett's fatal obsession with finding a city of gold in the Amazon rainforest, and it's wildly addictive; pacy and thrilling and a truly astonishing story.

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