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Dennis Potter: The Authorised Biography Hardcover – 11 Dec 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 683 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (11 Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571176852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571176854
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 5.6 x 16.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 670,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Dennis Potter was a brave man. His private life was a torture of extreme psoriasis coupled with arthritis which turned his hands into claws and his skin into snowflakes. His public life was a constant bombardment of censorial criticism as he pushed the boundaries of television with his challenging psychosexual dramas. Despite this, his genius was never questioned and the viewing public were forced to readjust their couch position. The biography takes us from Potter's childhood in the Forest of Dean, through a highly political Oxford career up to his marriage to his childhood and lifelong sweetheart. After this the work, a mutated hybrid of Potter's own life and his dream world constructed from songs and sexual fantasies. Carpenter treads carefully; there are still many living friends and relatives, and some of the material is emotionally complex. He presents Potter through detailed accounts of his work and extensive interviews with friends, lovers and colleagues, leaving readers to make up their own minds about this fiery, brilliant, demanding man. Potter's life has often been reduced to a tabloid blur of slur and as a writer, he is mainly known for Pennies From Heaven. There was much more to him than that. This biography offers readers a chance to see the man in all his guises. --Hannah Griffiths

About the Author

Humphrey Carpenter was born and educated in Oxford, and attended the Dragon School and Keble College. He was a well-known biographer and children's writer, and worked previously as a producer at the BBC. He wrote biographies of J. R. R. Tolkien, W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Ezra Pound, C. S. Lewis and Dennis Potter. Among his many books for children were the best-selling Mr Majeika series. He also wrote several plays for the theatre and radio. A keen musician, he was a member of a 1930s-style jazz band, Vile Bodies, which was resident at the Ritz Hotel in London for a number of years. He died in 2005. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Rodick TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All writers are liars, said Mr Potter, somewhere. A statement echoed by my recollection of Orson Welles. But I had to know more about that boy who did what he did on the teacher's table. A few chapters into Humphrey Carpenter's biography and the truth is known. Words and actions. Ruthless writer.

Background. Forest of Dean. Schools. London. Football fan. Carpenter weaves the quotes, from various sources into the narrative of an unfolding intellect, with great skill. The child abused. The man who grew so tall. It is a fascinating read. I bought the hardback for three pound second hand. Excellent deal.

The author is on the 'Close-Up' extra on the dvd of 'The Singing Detective' being interviewed with others. He mentions in his Prologue the connection with Dennis Potter is through the love of the songs in his television work. 'Obsessed' he states, by the music. I am beginning to understand. Truth in song.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hayles on 1 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Whether or not you are aware of Potter's work this is an engaging and thougt-provoking read. It is written so well that at times it almost reads as a novel and even if you aren't a fan of Potter's work you will want to follow the story and may be inspired to discover what made him such a great name in the world of TV and theatre. A real investigation into how one's childhood can shape the rest of one's life as well as an indepth look at a brilliant man's work.
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By Richard Newbold TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
A meticulous and detailed study of the life and works of the outstanding TV dramatist of the late 20th century, Dennis Potter. His upbringing, the influences (some horrific) of this early life in the Forest of Dean on his work, and the steady development and innovation he brought to the genre, are examined in detail. Potter's private life on paper at any rate was remarkably conventional, and the contemporary press coverage which sought a salacious and prurient explanation for the graphic sexual scenes and scenarios depicted in his work is treated sympathetically by Mr Carpenter, and for once the kiss and tell element is fairly sparse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dennis Potter Explained 8 Dec. 1999
By Dick Baldwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dennis Potter wrote remarkable things about ordinary people. He may be best remembered for his musical trilogy covering the '30s ("Pennies From Heaven"), '40's ("The Singing Detective"), and the '50s ("Lipstick On Your Collar") employing the device of using popular music to express the hidden thoughts of his characters ... and not new, emotion-charged renditions of the music of those times mind you, but actual phonograph records of the original British artists. Can there be more pathos than bedraggled Arthur Parker in "Pennies From Heaven" lip-synching the bright romantic tune "Roll Along Prairie Moon" ... or more horror than Philip Marlow in "The Singing Detective" witnessing nurses and doctors performing a big production number around the novelty song "Dry Bones", convinced that his illness is making him lose his mind? This biography is a treasure for Potter enthusiasts, going a long distance explaining the root cause of his innovative genius. I personally was thrilled to see that there is a link between Potter and American author Alice Hoffman (hint: it's revealed toward the end of the book -- but no fair using the index!).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Revealing Glimpse of the Genius of TV plays 18 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Without question, Dennis Potter changed the way we think about TV drama. Or, at least he did in the UK. In the US, his work has had very little exposure. The bio is fair, and explains a lot of Potter's obsessions (they all became material for his work, which is a deconstructionist's paradise). A little repetitive in places, Carpenter gives us a non-hagiographical overview of the guy behind the twisted visions.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A ponderousm pedestrian tome, not worthy of Carpenter 11 Jun. 1999
By ishmail@mediaone.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ken Trodd, like Potter a "scholarship boy" at Oxford, went on to produce Potter's finest works in a relationship bubbling with catalytic ferment and often boiling or exploding. As Trodd observes (in a probably unpublished review)he personally appears in this biography more often than DP's wife,mother,or agent, but his relevant insights, like his essential role in DPs creativity, are not apparent. Carpenter was not given to hack P.R jobs! Whyever did he agree to an "authorized" (i.e. supervised and censored) biography?
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