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Good Biographies - Anyone, like me, still read them?

edited December 2010 in Writing


  • edited December 2010
    I think these days a hefty bosom (if you are female) and/or a good run on X Factor are enough to have a ghost writer cobble something together that will hit the shops as a glossy hardback just in time for Christmas. The trouble is these people have often led pretty ordinary lives and there is little of interest to be found in the life of a twenty something who is just setting out on the road to fame.

    Far better read about someone who has been there for a while and actually has a tale worth telling. I read autobiographies of Norman Wisdom (ghost written) and Eric Sykes and they were far more interesting than anything Ant & Dec or that Jordan woman could put out. I also read a biography of Peter Sellers, which opened my eyes to what an awkward man he was to work with.

    But I would highly recommend Eric Sykes's 'If I Don't Write It Nobody Else Will' as an interesting life story that reveals (among the many stars he worked with) a sad childhood, a memorable war and the fact that those spectacles he wears are not specs at all but a hearing aid.
  • I'm currently reading the biography of Sandy Wollaston - he was an explorer when there was a world to explore.

    It's written by his son, based on diaries and letters.
  • my daughter is the biography reader in the family, she is reading the biography of John Adams at the moment which she says is almost a biography of Thomas Jefferson at the same time, they exchanged so many letters and went around together a lot, especially to Europe.
  • George Melly's autobiography makes very interesting reading. If ever a man lived for the moment, it was 'Good Time George'.
  • I've just bought Stephen Fry's 'Moab is my Washpot' at the local RSPCA shop. I think I can safely assume he wrote it himself!
  • Alan Alda's "Never Have you Dog Stuffed" and Alan Bennett's "Untold Stories" are both well worth reading.
  • Ooh, must read Alan Alda, thanks Rivington. I do enjoy biographies. Dawn French was ok. Not as good as I thought it would be.
  • I bought the Alan Alda one for my husand last year and he really enjoyed it.
    George Melly was wonderful- saw him performing at Newstead Abbey one summer. :)
  • Is Eric Sykes still alive?
  • I've asked for a couple of autobiographies for Christmas this year, as well as some YA series books that I enjoy reading. It'll give me something to do in my free periods when not doing homework.
  • Yes. He's very old and blind and deaf. But alive.
  • Awww, bless.
  • I don't go out of my way to read biographies.
    I think the only one I've actually bought new is Stephen Fry's.
    If I see one in a charity shop I think will make an interesting read, like Alan Bennett's, then I buy it.
  • I do read them if they look interesting and am thinking of getting Stephen Fry's. Pop stars and glamour models who haven't lived do not appeal
  • I love Alan Bennett's reminiscences too, probably because we were both brought up in Leeds and I can relate to so many of his boyhood memories.
  • [quote=montholon]probably because we were both brought up in Leeds[/quote]

    Keith Waterhouse also talks of Leeds in City Lights, the story of his childhood (sorry if you already know this).
  • I bought three books, each about Robbie Williams, Frank Skinner and Jack Dee - not sure if they're biographies though?
  • Jack Dee's daughter goes to school just down the road from me.

    Not sure if that's relevant.
  • You've told me that before.

    I don't really care where his daughter goes to school BB.
  • OH did a documentary about hotels with Alan Bennett, and when he came in to watch the programme in the cutting room he sat and ate his tie.
  • [quote=dora]You've told me that before.[/quote]

    Sorry, forgot.

    [quote=Liz!] he sat and ate his tie. [/quote]

    Why? I imagine he wouldn't enjoy watching himself.
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