A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families
A major literary event from ‘one of the greatest biographers of our age'
Henry Irving – a merchant's clerk who became the saviour of British theatre – and Ellen Terry, who made her first theatre appearance as soon as she could walk, were the king and queen of the Victorian stage. Creatively interdependent, they founded a power-house of arts at the Lyceum Theatre, with Bram Stoker as business manager, where they recast Shakespeare's plays on an epic scale and took the company on lucrative and exhilarating international tours. In his masterly new biography, award-winning writer Michael Holroyd explores their public and private lives, showing how their artistic legacy and their brilliant but troubled children came to influence the modern world.
"Holroyd has a wonderful eye for detail...an entirely captivating biography...one of the glories of the form" - Guardian
"It has all the tumbling narrative, spicy detail and easy empathy that determine his midas touch... shows Holroyd yet again pushing the biographer's art to new imaginative planes" - Financial Times
"Magnificent - not just as a fascinating exercise in group biography, but as a masterpiece of comic writing...such joie de vivre" - New Statesman
"This is a fabulous cavalcade of a book, written with infectious verve and deep imaginative sympathy ... a joy to read" - John Carey, Sunday Times
"All theatre enthusiasts are indebted to Henry Irving and Ellen Terry: and now also to Michael Holroyd for bringing their families back to dazzling life" - Sir Ian McKellan
"Through a rapidly evolving, scene-changing narrative, presented with a range of eye-catching effects Holroyd evokes the mysterious world of the Victorian and Edwardian theatre, the hiss of the gas footlights, the coloured lights and smoke, with all the attention to detail of the star-struck fan seated in the front stalls" - Mark Bostridge, Independent on Sunday
"He writes with eloquence and clarity, sketching the broader context with a light but firm touch and incidentally providing a literary masterclass in the marshalling and sifting of detail" - Literary Review
"'[Holroyd's] own uncanny powers of balance, perception and penetration [appear] in a multiple biography that somehow recaptures an ephemeral imaginative reality more intense to its subjects and their public than life itself" - Observer
"Holroyd's sweeping biography...proceeds at a furious pace, and, in less expert hands, the detail packed onto the page might bewilder; instead, the effect is of an epic, perfectly balanced by intimacies of setting and character." - The New Yorker
"As unconventional as it is fascinating" - The Times
- A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers
by Michael Holroyd
A masterfully atmospheric book of hidden lives and family secrets from the celebrated biog...