Franz Kafka: an illustrated life

charming study with period illustrations and photos This short biographical study offers an introduction to Kafka’s tragically short life and the formative influences on his work. It’s written by an expert, and presented in a very attractive manner with archive photographs on almost every page. Kafka’s own story is fairly well known. As he himself […]

Franz Kafka biography

life and times of a tortured literary modernist Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born in Prague, at a time when it was the centre of Jewish, German-speaking Bohemia, in the heart of Czechoslovakia and a part of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire. His father ran a fancy goods shop, and bullied his children into improving their manners […]

Frances Partridge

Bloomsbury socialite, diarist, and translator Frances Partridge (1900-2004) was a fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group, but someone who outlived all the other major figures. She knew Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, and she married Ralph Partridge after his first wife’s suicide. She also became a prolific diarist and a translator of novels from the […]

Flush a biography

the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet Spaniel Flush a biography (1933) is a work that combines fictional biography with Virginia Woolf’s love of ‘letters’ and her interst in writers’ lives. And of course it also encompasses the fanciful side of her imagination, being the life story of a dog. But it’s a famous dog […]

Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life

writer, traveller, socialite, gardener, interior designer Edith Wharton is a writer whose life and work spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – rather like Joseph Conrad, Henry James, and even Thomas Hardy. Most of her published output was produced after 1900, yet she represents the mores and values of ‘old money’ upper class America confronted […]

Edith Sitwell

modernist poet and English eccentric Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was an English poet, and an upper-class eccentric renowned for her exotic clothing and over-sized jewellery. She was prolific as a writer, and in the 1920s and 1930s was classed as an avant-garde modernist. Her work was praised by critics and fellow poets, but she is now […]

Down Below

Down Below is a psychiatric memoir by the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. She was the headstrong, rebellious daughter of an upper middle-class English family. At nineteen she ran away to Paris with the German artist Max Ernst who was married at the time. They lived together in the south of France and had dreams of […]

Alma Mahler

wife, mistress, muse, and hostess to the arts Alma Mahler was one of the most famous (some would say infamous) grandes dames of the first part of the twentieth century. She was rich, famous, gifted, and very glamorous in her younger years. And she had a penchant for artists, writers, and men of power that […]