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Biographies were initially composed of the lives of the great and the powerful.
This was because they were considered to be a small part of history and that historical interest was much more important than the individual.

In the middle ages biography was seen as the vehicle for the promotion of religious views and teachings and this was because access to education and the written word was primarily in the hands of the religious sector.

As power began to shift from the religious authorities the focus of biography also changed.
Works on kings, knights and the like came to the fore.

In the 15th century the invention of the printing press had a huge effect which promoted literacy.

In the 20th century, with the advent of mass education, there began to appear an improvement in the standard of the biography.

Psychology had developed and it was no longer acceptable to produce long tracts of continual praises.

The consequence of the Industrial Revolution was that the general public became more condescending of what was put before them.
At the same time the spread of subjects widened to include artists, celebrities and people of popular interest.

Autobiographies came to feature more at this time.
In the present day, as the publishing industry grew and grew, biography and autobiography has grown in prominence.

There are books on sport, music, actors, comedians and basically, people with a story to tell, all in the classification of biography and autobiography.

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Biographies Autobiographies
Muhammad Ali 50 Cent
Neil Armstrong Gerry Adams
Arnold Bennett Maya-Angelou
John Betjeman Jean Dominique Bauby
Marlon Brando Cecil Beaton
Charlotte Bronte John Berger
Miguel de Cervantes Michael Bond
Christopher Columbus Noel Browne
James Dean Augusten Burroughs
Dingo Baby Bob Champion
Amelia Earhart Papillon
Fatal Englishman Austin Clarke
Ford John Cleese
German Men of Letters Annie Dillard
Beryl Grey Waris Dirie
Dashiell Hammett J P Donleavy
Seamus Heaney Constantine Fitzgibbon
Lady Hester Granta Magazine
Michael Jackson Mikal Gilmore
Milena Jesenska Sheila Hancock
Dean Koontz James Herriot
Herman Melville Alex Higgins
Helen Mirren Livia E Bitton Jackson
Marilyn Monroe Griff Rhys Jones
Kate Moss Peter Kay
Mozart Fergal Keane
John Nash Brian Keenan
John Osborne Adrian Kenny
Lee Harvey Oswald Laurie Lee
S J Perelman Doris Lessing
Princess of Wales Frank McCourt
Rasputin Malachy McCourt
Sky Burial Michael McIntyre
Alexander Solzhenitsyn Spike Milligan
Dylan Thomas Sheila Mooney
Kenneth Tynan Christina Noble
Orson Welles Christopher Nolan
W B Yeats Barack Obama
Sean O'Casey
Frank O'Connor
Nuala O'Faolain
Michael Parkinson
Ger Philpott
Robert Sabbag
George Sand
Jean Paul Sartre
Elisa Segrave
Alice Sebold
Constantin Stanislavski
Janet Street-Porter
George Thomas
Elie Wiesel
Toby Young


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James Dean by Paul Alexander

No more than a promising actor with a handful of films to his name when he died in 1955, James Dean has since been elevated to an iconic status surpassed only by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.
This book draws on new and documented sources to reveal the truth behind the myths.

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Beryl Grey by Gordon Anthony

Gordon Anthony has produced an excellent book of photographs that portray why Beryl Grey was so popular with the audiences at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

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John Osborne by Martin Banham

The Writers and Critics biography of John Osborne is an introduction to Osborne's plays as they appeared in the theatre and the reception they received at the time from the critics.

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Amelia Earhart by John Burke

This is not just about the history of aviation.
It is about a woman who was well before her time.
She was so ahead of everyone else in her courage and determinism to achieve what she set out to do.

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Story of the Dingo Baby by John Bryson

This is the harrowing story of the nine-week-old baby carried off into the night by a dingo.

Bryson's telling of the story is penetrative but sensitive throughout.

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Milena Jesenska by Margarete Buber Neumann

Margarete Buber-Neumann met Milena Jesenska in a Nazi death camp in Ravensbruck.
From their friendship Margarete has delivered a book with a rich flavour of Vienna and the times they lived in.

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Christopher Columbus by John Stewart Collis

John Stewart Collis tells the story of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the Americas, who vigorously denied having made its discovery.
The life of this man in complete with great shifts upward and downward as his heights are very high and his lows are extremely low.

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Herman Melville by Andrew Delbanco

Delbanco brings us from the rough early writing of Typee through the optimism of Moby Dick and to his final disillusionment of the later writings.
A trip through Melville books.

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Arnold Bennett by Margaret Drabble

Margaret Drabble has done justice to a man who came from humble beginnings to have a huge influence on London life.

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Mozart by Alfred Einstein

This book reveals Mozart in his earlier years as a man in his daily life struggling.
Also latterly it goes into depth his music and his method of composition.

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Fatal Englishman by Sebastian Faulks

Three biographical essays about three people who had a self-destructive drive:
Christopher Wood,
Richard Hillary and
Jeremy Wolfenders.

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Dylan Thomas by Paul Ferris

A hilarious, shocking, sad story. Mr Ferris has sifted through a great mass of material and assembled his findings with outstanding care and skill.

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Seamus Heaney by Thomas C Foster

With commentary and criticism of Heaney's early work.
This book also has biographical information to interest all who appreciate the work of the genius.

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Charlotte Bronte by Winifred Gerin

A winner of a number of awards for biography this one merits its success.

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Lady Hester by Lorna Gibb

Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope revolutionised archaeology with her use of textual sources,
was innovative in its time and her excavation in Ashkelon was considered the first model excavation in Holy Land archaeology.
This is her story.

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn by Giovanni Grazzini

He has lived through the hell of war and the even more savage ordeal of Siberian prison camps.
He has stood alone against the totalitarian might of the Soviet government.

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Marilyn Monroe by Fred Lawrence Guiles

Illustrated biography of Marilyn Monroe by the author of books on Tyrone Power, Stan Laurel and Jane Fonda.

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Neil Armstrong by James R Hansen

This book tells the unknown story behind the man who uttered the famous words as he became the first person to walk on the moon.

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S J Perelman A Life by Dorothy Herrmann

This is the biography of an American legend and humorist.

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Marlon Brando by Charles Higham

Marlon Brando is the one actor whose unique style has dominated post-war cinema, defined masculine rebelliousness for generations of teenagers, and spawned dozens of imitators of the intense, laconic acting method he pioneered.

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John Betjeman by Bevis Hillier

The definitive authorised biography takes the reader from Betjeman`s troubled childhood through his blossoming at Oxford. Biography.

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Dashiell Hammett by Diane Johnson

A forthright biography that gets straight to the point.

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Ford by Robert Lacey

The scandals, the triumphs, the wheels, the deals.
The full extravagant story of the world`s most famous dynasty, their cars, their company, their public and private lives.
Spanning over 100 years and four generations.

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Princess of Wales by Ladybird Books

This little book tells the story in pictures of the engagement and wedding of Charles and Diana.

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Lee Harvey Oswald by Priscilla Johnson McMillan

They met at a dance in Minsk in 1961. After they married, he beat her.
The night she attempted suicide they had the best sex of their marriage.
Marina admired President Kennedy. Lee shot him.

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Muhammad Ali by Davis Miller

In Zen of Muhammad Ali and Other Obsessions tells us of fighting, living, friendship and love.

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John Nash by Sylvia Nasar

At the age of thirty-one, John Nash suffered a devastating breakdown and was diagnosed with schizophobia.
Yet after decades of leading a ghost like existence he emerged to win a Nobel Prize and world acclaim.
This is the inspiration for the award-winning film of the same name.

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German Men of Letters by Alex Natan

Twelve German writers write on German authors and philosophy in the wake of Nietzsche's rise and fall.
The 12 Men of Letters are: Friedrich Nietzsche, Hermann Sudermann, Arthur Schnitzler, Christian Morgenstern, Frank Wedekind, Carl Sternheim, Georg Kaiser, Robert Walser, Heinrich Mann, Stefan Zweig, Hermann Hesse and Gertrud von le Fort.

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W B Yeats by William H Pritchard

Penguin critical anthologies is a series collection criticism on major writers in the English Language.
There is a ful selection from the writer on his own art, contemporary reception, later criticism and modern critical discussions and analysis.

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Dean Koontz by Katherine Ramsland

Koontz generally shuns publicity and guards his privacy fiercely.
Katherine Ramsland is the first biographer with whom he has ever cooperated.
Koontz talks freely about his dark and troubled life as a child and the major psychological obstacles he had to overcome.

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Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra by Thomas Roscoe

The life and times of Cervantes with a history of the family and criticism of his work.

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Michael Jackson by J Randy Taraborrelli

This is the revised edition bringing it up to 2004 from its original publication in 1992.

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Orson Welles by David Thomson

David Thomson has produced a masterful picture of an enigmatic man.

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Kate Moss by Fred Vermorel

This story goes from her misspent youth through her meteoric rise to the top and the people around her who made it possible.
It also features her affairs and lovers.

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Helen Mirren by Ivan Waterman

This biography charts Helen Mirren's personal and professional career from her time as a struggling actor to her triumphs on the world stage.

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Rasputin by Colin Wilson

This is Colin Wilson's perceptions on Rasputin and his activity during the collapse of the monarchy in Russia.

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Kenneth Tynan by Kathleen Tynan

This is the life of Kenneth Tynan, the drama critic, by his wife Kathleen.

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Sky Burial by Xue Xinran

There is a rumour of a 'Sky Burial', where a soldier was brutally fed to the vultures.
Xinran was fascinated by this story and more so when she met Shu Vven, a woman who had spent thirty years in the wildest part of Tibet, searching for her missing husband.


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50 Cent

From Pieces to Weight

This is 50 Cent's story in his own words, the way he wants to tell it. No holds barred.

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Gerry Adams

Before the Dawn

Gerry Adams was silenced by the media broadcasters, but now he is in the limelight and he can have his say.
This is his story.

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Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman

This is the fourth volume of autobiography from this amazing woman.
In it she tells us of her work in the civil rights movement along with Martin Luther King.

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Jean Dominique Bauby

Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

This is the story of a man, paralysed from a stroke who, through sheer will power, was able to invent a life for himself in the most appalling circumstances.

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Cecil Beaton


Ballet is Beaton's autobiography about his career.

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John Berger

A Fortunate Man

This book is about a man who is a doctor.
It is also about a wider society in which the man has a place.

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Michael Bond

Bears and Forebears

Since an auspicious day in 1957, when Michael Bond came up with an idea for a children's story,
his life has been dominated by a small, duffle-coat wearing, marmalade-loving bear.
Paddington bear has had a formative influence on millions of other lives since then and has remained a constant source of inspiration to his creator.
But Paddington is just one in a whole range of characters - human and imaginary - who have shared Michael Bond`s life. Autobiography.

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Noel Browne

Against the Tide

This is the story of a man whose life was dedicated to those who were worse off than himself.

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Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors

Augusten Burroughs Running with Scissors
This is the account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.
His mother gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist, who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus.
So at twelve, Burroughs found himself with the psychiatrist's bizarre family and befriending a paedophile who lived in the shed.
This is the funny, harrowing account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

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Bob Champion

Champion's Story

Bob Champion was a Champion jockey. This is his story.

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Austin Clarke

Twice Round the Black Church

The author evokes a boyhood spend in the north side of Dublin City in the early part of the century,
in the years when Mr. Bloom, the hero of Ulysses, was supposed to be living there. There are also glimpses of Liverpool as seen by a child.

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John Cleese

So, Anyway

This is the autobiography of a very funny man.
The man with the funny walk, the man who bashes cars with branches of trees and the man who you would not like to host you in a hotel.

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Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek This is a book about nature and Annie Dillard's complete love of nature with all its good and bad sides.
Annie Dillard embraces nature in her valley, Tinker Creek, in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

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Waris Dirie

Desert Flower

This is the story of a very courageous woman who faced incredible dangers in order to live her life with dignity.

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J P Donleavy

The History of the Ginger Man

This is the story of Donleavy's classic The Ginger Man, revealing influences from literary history and autobiography.

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Constantine Fitzgibbon

Man in Aspic

Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and autobiography are blended together to give a picture of society in the fifties and sixties.

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Mikal Gilmore

Shot in the Heart

This is the story behind the story of Gary Gilmore.
This one tells you more than the Norman Mailer classic, Executioner's Song.

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Granta Magazine

Granta was founded in 1889 by students in Cambridge University.
The magazine has a long history of support for the story, both fiction and non-fiction.

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John Thaw by Sheila Hancock

Sheila Hancock tells her story of life with and without John Thaw.
She also tells his story without her.

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James Herriot

Every Living Thing

James Herriot has captivated millions with tales of triumphs, disasters, pride and sometimes heartache about his time as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales.

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Alex Higgins

Alex Through the Looking Glass

Alex Higgins, the phenomenon. Fiery, charismatic, a time-bomb of nervous energy.
This auto-biography takes you through Alex's tempestuous life from his hustling days as a teenager through his time at the peak of his and The game.

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Livia E Bitton Jackson


Elli was taken at the age of thirteen and sent to Auschwitz where she somehow managed to survive.

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Griff Rhys Jones


Griff Rhys Jones is a comedian, writer, actor and television presenter who was born on November 16, 1953 n Cardiff in Wales.
He is known mainly for his partnership with Mel Smith, with whom he featured in a number of television series, Alas Smith and Jones during the 1980's and 1990's.

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Peter Kay

The Sound of Laughter

One of the funniest and best loved comedians tells us how he came to achieve his extraordinary success.

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Fergal Keane

Letter to Daniel

Fergal Keane writes about his friendships with Aung San Suu Kyi,
his optimism about South Africa and his relationship with the Ireland of his past.

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Brian Keenan

An Evil Cradling

Brian Keenan went to Beirut in 1985 for a change of scene from his native Belfast.
He became headline news when he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi`ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beirut for the next four and a half years.

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Adrian Kenny

Before the Wax Hardened

This is the story of Adrian Kenny, his childhood, his surroundings, his life.

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Laurie Lee

Cider with Rosie

This is an autobiography of a young boy growing in Post-World War 1 Britain, I Gloucestershire. It is the story of a time long gone.
No electricity, no cars no modern conveniences.

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Doris Lessing

Under My Skin

This is the autobiographical account of Doris Lessing's formative years as a person and as a writer.
It covers her childhood in Africa and the time in her life right up to her arrival in London in 1949 with her manuscript of her first novel, 'The Grass is Singing' in her possession.

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Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes

This is the story of Frank McCourt and his childhood upbringing.
He tells it like it was, not romantically, but true.

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Malachy McCourt

A Monk Swimming

Frank's more rip-roaring brother tells the tale of his arrival in New York and his adventures there and back.

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Michael McIntyre

Life and Laughing

This is the story of Michael McIntyre's rise from selling one ticket at the Edinburgh Festival to selling half a million tickets for his last tour.

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Thomas Merton

The Seven Storey Mountain

This is Thomas Merton's autobiography.
The title refers to Purgatory in Dante's Divine Comedy.

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Spike Milligan

Adolf Hitler My Part in His Downfall

Spike Milligan's on the march giving more than he gets, with his recollections of army life.

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Sheila Mooney

Bluebird Flew Away

This sequel to A Strange Kind of Loving continues the account of Sheila's life.

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Christina Noble

Bridge Across My Sorrows

After an abused childhood full of torment and terror
Christina went to Ho Chi Minh City.
There she turned the lives of destitute
children around and managed to turn her own life
around as well.

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Christopher Nolan

Under the Eye of the Clock

Christopher Nolan relates his early experience, those of a young Irish boy handicapped from birth.

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Barack Obama

Dreams From My Father

This is the background of the President's life told in his own words before he hit the dizzy heights.

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Sean O'Casey

I Knock at the Door

First volume in the six-part autobiography of one of Ireland's best loved playwrights.

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Frank O'Connor

An Only Child

This is the story of a short story writer in the making.
Frank O'Connor became a very successful writer of short stories because he had a wealth of experience to pick from.
An array of characters that would be hard to resist depicting on paper. If you had the mind to. And Frank certainly had a mind to.

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Nuala O'Faolain

Are You Somebody

Nuala O'Faolain provided us with an insight into a very human, complicated and intelligent woman who lived within her time and yet was ahead of it.

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Michael Parkinson

Parky My Autobiography

Michael Parkinson has talked with them all. From Muhammad Ali to Bill Wyman the list is very impressive.
Here he tells you about the people and his impressions of them off camera.

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Ger Philpott

The Deep End

Ger Philpott lived with his friend, Paul, until Paul's untimely death from Aids.
Deep End is an honest account of the life and death of his lover and the circumstances around it.
In Deep End Ger Philpot describes the turbulent relationship with his lover, Paul who was one of the first people to die from AIDS in Ireland.
Deep End chronicles the developing AIDS crisis in Ireland.

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Robert Sabbag

Snow Blind

An insight into the cocaine world of double-dealing, paranoia and thuggery are revealed.

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George Sand

A Winter in Majorca

This is the record of George S, and visits to Majorca in the mid-19th Century, and her affair with Chopin.

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Jean Paul Sartre


This is Sartre's own thoughts about his childhood, his upbringing and the things which affected his philosophy.

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Elisa Segrave

The Diary of a Breast

An erudite and honest account in diary form of the effects of cancer on a person.
The author is particularly skilled in delivering the story in a very human way, not avoiding embarrassing moments, but turning them into humorous situations.
This is candid, this is true, but most of all this is real.

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Alice Sebold


In a memoir hailed for its searing candour and wit,
Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus.

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Constantin Stanislavski

My Life in Art

Numerous books have been published about Stanislavski- as a person of remarkable stature,
as a great actor and director and as a formulator of a method of creating character which actors and other artists have found a touchstone to vitality
and success-but nothing has been written about him as revealing as his own expression of his ideas and experience in this outstanding autobiography.

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Janet Street-Porter

Fall Out

Janet continues her autobiography, talking about the friends and acquaintances she encountered over the years.

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George Thomas

Mr Speaker

George Thomas became Speaker of the House and performed his duties in exemplary fashion during some very turbulent times.
The reins of power were handed over during his stay.
These are his memoirs.

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Elie Wiesel


This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who went through the desperation of Auschwitz and lived to tell the tale

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How To Lose Friends and Alienate People

Toby Young

In 1995 Toby Young moved from London to New York to take up a position as contributing editor on Vanity Fair.
Things were looking rosy. But all was not as it seemed. After two years he was sacked at Vanity Fair, banned from his favourite bar and he couldn't get a date. Here's how it went.

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