Author(s): Richard Holmes
Across three centuries, and much of Europe - "Holmes writes beautifully... A masterly performance by the greatest literary biographer of his generation' The Oldie
Thirty years ago Richard Holmes published Footsteps - a revolutionary book that would become a bestseller and influence profoundly a whole generation of younger writers. The Long Pursuit is a companion book in that it ranges widely over the arts, science, poetry and inspiration to reflect upon the practice and importance of biographical writing.
Holmes wraps his arguments in an exquisite cloak of many colours,sewn from stories of a myriad different lives. One section of the book is devoted to the biography of women - particularly scientific women who have long suffered the condescension of history. Margaret Cavendish and the lost women of science, Madame de Stael, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Somerville amongst them.
The book includes a light-hearted look at how the popular reputations of some favourite Romantic figures - including the water-logged poet Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked lecturer Coleridge and the lunatic bard William Blake - have altered spectacularly over time and the river of biography.
Lauded for his magnificent book The Age of Wonder and for his earlier biographies of Shelley, Coleridge and Johnson, This Long Pursuit contains some of the finest biographical writing ever published.
`A must read ... intriguing and satisfying ... All the sketches makes illuminating reading, in many cases deliberately setting out to provoke a rethink of earlier biographies ... I thoroughly enjoyed the book; indeed I devoured it' Athene Donald, Guardian `Compulsive, fastidious journey through 50 years of his own notebooks ... Holmes gives an insight into his methods', Books of the Year, Observer `A glorious series of essays on the art of life writing and a worthy successor to his earlier volumes on the craft, Footsteps and Sidetracks ... heaven for Holmes fans ... the best account imaginable for the richness of his form' Observer `This collection of 50 years of high-profile lectures and anthology contributions offers us a lorryload of arresting subjects ... `This Long Pursuit' is distinguished by a geniality of tone ... Holmes's eye for detail is as sharp as ever' The Times `Holmes writes beautifully of the perils of memory and forgetting ... perhaps the essay that best sums up Holmes's endeavour is his superb explosion of the accepted account of Coleridge's 1808 lectures to the Royal Institution ... a masterly performance by ... the greatest literary biographer of his generation' The Oldie
Richard Holmes is the author of the prize-winning and best-selling `The Age of Wonder', shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2009 and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science writing. He is the author of many other prize-winning books including `Shelley', `Coleridge', `Dr Johnson & Mr Savage', and the classic work, `Footsteps'. He lives in Norwich and is married to the novelist Rose Tremain.