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Michelangelo: A Tormented Life

Continue Reading · 6 April 2010 · art and music, biography and memoir, video

41. It’s only a movie (and a book)

Last Monday I met film critic Mark Kermode at the Watershed in Bristol before his event there which formed part of his countrywide tour to present his new book, It’s Only a Movie. He was remarkably bright and engaged, considering he had been at the BAFTAs the night before and had already done 37 interviews […]

Continue Reading · 1 March 2010 · biography and memoir, film, podcasts

40. Charles Dickens – a writer’s life

We mark the birthday of Charles Dickens earlier this week with a special extended edition of my interview with his biographer Michael Slater from the end of last year, which originally appeared on Blackwell Online. John Bowen, reviewing the book in the Times Literary Supplement, said: “[it] immediately takes its place as the most authoritative, […]

Continue Reading · 12 February 2010 · biography and memoir, literature, podcasts

38. Poland – a country in the moon

My guest on this week’s programme is Michael Moran, author of A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland. Michael first visited Poland in the early 1990s after the collapse of Communism as leader of an ill-assorted crew of British teachers charged with introducing the Poles to the delights of […]

Continue Reading · 10 January 2010 · biography and memoir, history and politics, humour, podcasts, travel

Books of the Decade – Kirsten Ellis

Continuing our series in which writers and publishers choose their favourite books of the past ten years, today’s guest is Kirsten Ellis. Kirsten is the author of Star of the Morning: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Hester Stanhope (Harper Collins). She is currently writing an historical novel and completing her MPhil/PhD in Creative Writing and […]

Continue Reading · 27 November 2009 · biography and memoir, literature

Introducing the Last Englishman

Here is a short video I recorded with Roland Chambers about his new book, The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome. You could view this as an appetizer for the longer audio interview with him, coming in my podcast for Faber in early September, in which he talks about Ransome’s life in Russia […]

Continue Reading · 28 August 2009 · biography and memoir, children's books, history and politics, podcasts, video

22. From barman to biographer

Rodge Glass – Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography In this week’s podcast, Rodge Glass tells me how, after his first disastrous meeting with Alasdair Gray in a bar in Glasgow, he later went on to be the writer’s student, amanuensis and eventually biographer. Rodge recalls how Gray (a self-described “fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glasgow […]

Continue Reading · 7 February 2009 · biography and memoir, literature, podcasts
zinovieff red princess

5. Sofka Zinovieff on the trail of the Red Princess

A few years ago Sofka Zinovieff became fascinated by the life of her grandmother and namesake, Sofka Dolgorouky, who was born into a noble family in imperial Russia exactly a century ago. Sofka had known her grandmother when she was already an old woman and, although she knew something of her colourful life, she was […]

Continue Reading · 6 December 2007 · biography and memoir, history and politics