Category: LCO011000

One Kiss or Two?

Every encounter begins with a greeting. Be it a quick ‘Hello!’ or the somewhat longer and gracious ‘Sula manchwanta galunga omugobe!’ shaking hands or shaking, well, rather more private parts of our anatomy, we have been doing it many times daily for thousands of years. It should be the most straightforward thing in the world, but this apparently simple act is fraught with complications, leading to awkward misunderstandings and occasionally even outright violence.

In the illuminating and entertaining One Kiss or Two? Andy Scott goes down the rabbit hole to take a closer look at what greetings are all about. In looking at how they have developed, he discovers a kaleidoscopic world of etiquette, body-language, evolution, neuroscience, anthropology and history. Through in-depth research and his personal experiences, and with the help of experts, Scott takes us on a captivating journey through a subject far richer than we might have expected.

The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit: Author of The Railway Children

A SUNDAY TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Winner of the Rubery Book Award 2020 (Non Fiction)

Edith Nesbit is considered the inventor of the children’s adventure story and her brilliant children’s books influenced bestselling authors including C.S. Lewis, P. L. Travers, J.K. Rowling, and Jacqueline Wilson, to name but a few. But who was the person behind the best loved classics The Railway Children and Five Children and It? Her once-happy childhood was eclipsed by the chronic illness and early death of her sister. In adulthood, she found herself at the centre of a love triangle between her husband and her close friend. She raised their children as her own.

Yet despite these troubling circumstances Nesbit was playful, contradictory and creative. She hosted legendary parties at her idiosyncratic Well Hall home and was described by George Bernard Shaw – one of several lovers – as ‘audaciously unconventional’. She was also an outspoken Marxist and founding member of the Fabian Society. Through Nesbit’s letters and deep archival research, Eleanor Fitzsimons reveals her as a prolific activist and writer on socialism. Nesbit railed against inequity, social injustice and state-sponsored oppression and incorporated her avant-garde ideas into her writing, influencing a generation of children – an aspect of her legacy examined here for the first time.

Eleanor Fitzsimons, acclaimed biographer and prize winning author of Wilde’s Women, has written the most authoritative biography in more than three decades. Here, she brings to light the extraordinary life story of an icon, creating a portrait of a woman in whom pragmatism and idealism worked side-by-side to produce a singular mind and literary talent.

***PRAISE FOR THE LIFE AND LOVES OF E. NESBIT***

‘A terrific book.’ Neil Gaiman

‘A very well-researched biography.’ Kate Atkinson

‘Eleanor Fitzsimons’ painstaking research gives us a new insight into the bizarre Bohemian life of the groundbreaking children’s author E. Nesbit. It’s a fantastic read.’ Jacqueline Wilson 

‘Absolutely superb!’ Hilary McKay, children’s author of The Skylarks War (shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards)

‘In this long-overdue new biography, Eleanor Fitzsimons gives us a nuanced yet compelling portrait of E. Nesbit’s many-facetted personality, life and works, as well as of the politically and culturally vibrant milieu in which she lived.’ Fiona Sampson, author of In Search of Mary Shelley

‘What a stirring and unexpected story Eleanor Fitzsimons tells and what a subject she has found. I can’t think of a single writer who doesn’t owe something to Edith Nesbit’s glorious books for children. The extraordinary woman who wrote them proves to be every bit as brave, funny and imaginative as her own intrepid characters.’ Miranda Seymour, author of In Byron’s Wake

‘One of the greatest children’s writers, and an acknowledged much loved influence on Joan Aiken E. Nesbit is celebrated in this wonderful new biography by Eleanor Fitzsimons.’ Lizza Aiken, daughter of Joan Aiken

‘An exceptional biography about an absolutely fascinating individual.’ Adam Roberts, Vice-President of the H.G. Wells Society

‘A fascinating, thoughtfully organized, thoroughly researched, often surprising biography.’ Kirkus Review

‘Fitzsimons delivers a sprightly and highly readable life of a writer who deserves even wider recognition.’ Publishers Weekly

Reach for the Ground

For forty years Bernard wrote only about himself, and the tale of his life, loves and failures has become legendary. Reach for the Ground is an irresistible collection of the best of Jeffrey Bernard’s celebrated Low Life contributions to the Spectator. The column was once described as ‘a suicide note in weekly installments’ and became a national institution whose passing was noted with great sorrow. Peter O’Toole’s affectionate introduction recalls a forty-year-old friendship and three sparkling autobiographical essays encapsulate the defining experiences of Bernard’s life.