Category: Memoir & Biography

Hotbed: Bohemian New York and the Secret Club that Sparked Modern Feminism

The dazzling story of the early feminists who blazed a trail for the movement’s most radical ideas

 

New York City, 1912: in downtown Greenwich Village, a group of women gathered, all with a plan to change the world.

 

This was the first meeting of ‘Heterodoxy’, a secret social club. Its members were passionate advocates of women’s suffrage, labour rights, equal marriage and free love. They were socialites and socialists; reformers and revolutionaries; artists, writers and scientists. Hotbed is the never-before-told story of the club whose audacious ideas and unruly acts transformed an international feminist agenda into a modern way of life.

 

For readers who loved Mo Moulton’s Mutual Admiration Society and Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting.

Nice is Not a Biscuit

100 lessons from one of Britain’s most successful businessmen

Peter Mead’s spectacular career in advertising began when he joined the despatch department of a large agency straight from school at the age of 16. He fell in love with the business and his ambition and drive led him in 1977 to co-found Abbott Mead Vickers, which grew into one of the industry’s most respected and highly awarded agencies. In 1995 AMV BBDO became the largest advertising agency in the UK, a position it has held ever since.

Nice is not a Biscuit distils the most important business lessons Peter has learnt from his years at the cutting edge of advertising. It reveals the secrets of his success, and a lifetime’s thought about the right way to do business in the creative industries (and beyond), in a series of short, utterly beguiling chapters.

The chapters range over leadership, happy companies; speaking truth to power; class; ambition and the pursuit of scale; politicking in the workplace; improving profitability, managing creative types, and lots more. He also includes inside stories of some of the most iconic advertising in the last forty years.

The book places the reader in the company of a clever, funny, wise, humane raconteur, whose vast knowledge is conveyed lightly, and in ways that make the reader want to listen and learn.

A Woman in Your Own Right: The Art of Assertive, Clear and Honest Communication

‘The classic assertiveness bible’ GUARDIAN

Do you sometimes struggle to state what you want (or don’t want)? Do tricky conversations go wrong? Does it at times seem easier to suffer in silence? This book has the solutions you need.

Despite recent advances in gender equality in education, the workplace and the home, in practice many women and girls still find it a challenge to speak up and be heard. Assertiveness – defined by psychologist and assertiveness trainer Anne Dickson as clear, honest and direct communication – is an art, which can be learned. Instead of being governed by the desire to please – the Compassion Trap – assertiveness teaches us to take charge of our own feelings and behaviour, without blaming others. 

In her pioneering handbook, now fully updated to mark its 40th anniversary, Dickson draws on her long experience of in-person training to give all women the practical skills and tools we need to assert what we feel and want, manage difficult conversations, avoid being sidetracked by culturally learned behaviours, say ‘No’, and find self-acceptance.

Deeper Into the Wood

‘A wonderfully personal evocation of the joys, hard work and meaning of creating a wood for wildlife, written with sensitivity and care. A delightful read.’ Stephen Moss, author of The Robin: A Biography

Over twenty years ago, Ruth Pavey bought four acres of scrub woodland above the Somerset Levels and set out to improve the lush haven for birds, insects and all manner of wildlife. Beneath the shade of the trees she spent two decades planting, she now reflects on the fate of her wood.

As steward, she has witnessed nature’s forces shifting and the abundance of species dwindling rapidly. When the rabbits suddenly vanished, she knew it was time to take a closer look at the undergrowth and what she could do to preserve the legacy of the wood for generations to come.

Deeper Into the Wood recounts a year in the life of an amateur naturalist working with wildlife experts to interpret the language of the land. Ruth’s hand-drawn illustrations accompany her lyrical prose, which demonstrates an appreciation for the local people and their history. This is one woman’s story of inspiration, conservation, and a love of place.

***PRAISE FOR DEEPER INTO THE WOOD***

A rare treat of a book that warms as it informs and leads us deep into the character of one small pocket of England. Ruth Pavey writes with wit, passion and precious little sentimentality.’ Tristan Gooley, author of The Secret World of Weather

‘Wonderful… how love for a small woodland and respect for its local history can enhance wildlife and enrich the human spirit.’ Nick Davies, author of Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

‘Ruth Pavey spins a delicate web between the many branches of her little Somerset wood. Her closely observed changes of wildlife and the changing seasons, echo a growing awareness and concern for life on Earth itself. The author’s growth and metamorphosis into an amateur naturalist who has learnt to read the language of trees is profoundly inspirational.’ Gabriel Hemery, author of The New Sylva

‘Inquisitive and generous. Pavey shares the love of her wood, past and present, through a fascinating weave of its natural and cultural histories. This book is as companionable as it is interesting. Patrick Baker, author of The Unremembered Places

The Secret Diary of a New Mum (aged 43 1/4)

The touching, honest and laugh-out-loud account of what it’s like to become a first-time mum after 40

Whatever your age, becoming a mum for the first time brings excitement, anxiety and numerous challenges. But how do you cope when, to top it all off, you discover you are almost old enough to be the mother of everyone else in your birth prep group? As one in five babies is born to a mum over 35, and the number of women over 40 giving birth has doubled, The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43 1/4) is Cari Rosen’s timely and hilarious account of becoming a first-time mother in her 40s.

Whether it’s deftly side-stepping questions about your age and baby number two, weeping as younger counterparts ping back into their size ten jeans within thirty seconds of giving birth, or your doctor suddenly referring to you as geriatric, Cari approaches the shared experiences of an ever-increasing number of mothers with insight, humour and honesty.

***Praise for The Secret Diary of a New Mum***

‘Hilariously candid.Daily Mail

Brilliantly observed… funny, embarrassing and yet cruelly honest. It feels good to laugh about it, now the stitches are out.’ Fay Ripley

Warm, witty and very, very wise the perfect antidote to all those po-faced pregnancy books. As a fellow ”Geriatric Mother” I found myself constantly laughing and nodding along in agreement.‘ Imogen Edwards-Jones

Beyond the Secret Garden

The definitive and revealing biography of the author of The Secret Garden.

 

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s favourite theme in her fiction was the reversal of fortune, and she herself knew extremes of poverty and wealth. Born in Manchester in 1849, she emigrated with her family to Tennessee because of the financial problems caused by the cotton famine. From a young age she published her stories to help the family make ends meet. Only after she married did she publish Little Lord Fauntleroy that shot her into literary stardom.

 

On the surface, Frances’ life was extremely successful: hosting regular literary salons in her home and travelling frequently between properties in the UK and America. But behind the colourful personal and social life, she was a complex and contradictory character. She lost both parents by her twenty-first birthday, Henry James called her “the most heavenly of women” although avoided her; prominent people admired her and there were many friendships as well as an ill-advised marriage to a much younger man that ended in heartache. Her success was punctuated by periods of depression, in one instance brought on by the tragic loss of her eldest son to consumption.

 

Ann Thwaite creates a sympathetic but balanced and eye-opening biography of the woman who has enchanted numerous generations of children.

When In Doubt Be Nice

Peter Mead’s spectacular career in advertising began when he joined the despatch department of a large agency straight from school at the age of 16.

He fell in love with the business and his ambition and drive led him in 1977 to co-found Abbott Mead Vickers, which grew into one of the industry’s most respected and highly awarded agencies. In 1995 AMV BBDO became the largest advertising agency in the UK, a position it has held ever since.

When in Doubt Be Nice begins with the most important business lessons Peter has learnt from his years at the cutting edge of advertising, and tells how he became one of the legends of the industry. It reveals the secrets of his success, his beliefs about the right way to do business and the values on which he built his remarkable career, including the benefits of behaving not simply as a leader to those who work closely with him, but also as a guide and mentor.

Written with modesty and wit, it is an inspiring insight into the mind of a great businessman who used intuitive flair and an understanding of how those around him think to build and run an extraordinarily successful advertising agency.

Low Life – Irreverent Reflections from the Bottom of a Glass

Described as the Tony Hancock of journalism, for forty years Bernard wrote only about himself and the failures of his life – with women, drink, doctors, horses – which have become legendary.

Low Life is an irresistible collection of the best of Bernard’s celebrated autobiographical contributions to The Spectator, once described as ‘a suicide note in weekly instalments’. Previously published in two volumes entitled Low Life: A Kind of Autobiography and Reach for the Ground, these books are now available in a single volume containing all his derisive reflections on life.

Antiauthoritarian, grumpy, charming, politically incorrect, funny, drunk and always mischievous, Bernard could usually be found at the Coach and Horses pub on London’s Greek street, a lit cigarette in his mouth and a drink in hand.

He was joined by famous friends including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Graham Green, Peter O’Toole, Ian Fleming and many others and their conversations – as well as with whomever was tending bar at the time – served as the basis for his writing. There were in fact times when he was too drunk to write, hence the famous "unwell" notice that went next to the large, hastily-sketched cartoon that filled its space in the magazine.

The Iris Trilogy: Memoirs of Iris Murdoch

Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the greatest British novelists and philosophers of the twentieth century. She read philosophy at Oxford where she met and later married John Bayley, a literary critic and fellow novelist. So began a forty-year, intense and unconventional but happy marriage, detailed in the classic bestselling memoir Iris. Despite Iris’ extramarital affairs with men and women throughout their long marriage – which John always suspected – their bond was unbreakable, and his memoir beautifully captures their child-like moments of bliss: walking in forests, swimming together in streams, and sharing hot cups of coffee on crisp mornings.

These are touching but poignant stories with the knowledge that Iris and her grand intellect would eventually succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. John would care for her singlehandedly for five years, the last of which he writes about in Iris and the Friends that also describes her peaceful passing. Finally, he reflects on his bereavement and the void that is left when a soulmate departs in A Widower’s House. All three books are told by the person who knew Iris best, with gentle humour – at times unbearably moving – in his portrayal of a remarkable woman.

Repeat Prescription: Hilarious True Stories from a Country Practice

Dr Sparrow is back, coping with more bizarre, macabre and hilarious situations. Following his successful debut with Country Doctor, he once more guides us through the daily rounds of the weird and wonderful in his practice on the Devon/Cornwall border.

What would you do if faced with the unsuccessful resuscitation of the wrong patient, being held at gunpoint as a suspected terrorist or confronting a blind man who refuses to stop driving? And what about the little old lady who presents you with a supermarket bag stuffed with £20 notes? Add to this, jets crashing on the runway, fleeting glimpses of the Royal Genitalia and the haunting tale of the suicidal stranger and an abducted child – and you will start to have some idea of the unpredictable life of Dr Sparrow.