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Elspeth Huxley: A Biography Paperback – 1 Jul 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (1 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000729204X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007292042
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 928,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘Excellent’
Christopher Ondaatje, Times Higher Education Supplement

‘Wonderfully well-informed’
Kathryn Hughes, New Statesman

From the Back Cover

''Excellent', Christopher Ondatje, 'Times Higher Education Supplement''

Elspeth Huxley, who died in 1997, is chiefly remembered for her lyrical and evocative memoir 'The Flame Trees of Thika'. Yet 'Flame Trees' was only one of the thirty books she wrote, and it took just a few months of her remarkably active life to compose.

A woman of compelling personality, exceptionally energetic and effective in everything she did, Elspeth Huxley was not only a celebrated writer, but a farmer, broadcaster, journalist, conservationist, political thinker, magistrate and government adviser. Her wide circle included George and Joy Adamson, the Leakeys and Peter Scott (whose biography she wrote). Whatever their subject, her books reveal the adventurousness, warmth, perception and occasional astringency which made up her own personality; they are also notable for their acute observation and great social range, encompassing the lives of Kenya's poor white farmers, the frivolous Happy Valley set and Africans alike.

For this, the first biography of Elspeth Huxley, C.S. Nicholls has made extensive use of her papers and letters. 'Elspeth Huxley: A Biography' is not merely a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary woman, but an absorbing account of a whole era of colonial and British history.

'Wonderfully well-informed'
Kathryn Hughes, 'New Statesman'

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Rogers on 15 April 2014
Format: Paperback
A well written and enjoyable account of Elspeth Huxley's life which will prove a nostalgia high for anyone who has lived in East Africa at some time. I first became aware of Elspeth Huxley when reading The Flame Trees of Tika at an early age when I was living in Uganda. however, I was unaware that she wrote a total of thirty books and, surprisingly. spent most of her adult life in England and not kenya. Her biography is at its best when it covers the kenya years (including the visits to Kenya in her adult iife) as her adult life in England was not that remarkable or interesting and the book tends to flag when it steps outside Kenya. The book also, inadvertently, highlights some of the idiosyncrasies of the English upper class in the first half of the twentieth century-a proclivity for unsuitable marriages and a complete lack of understanding of (and inability to learn about ) business and money. Huxley's parents (her fathe er especially) constantly launched into new business ventures (mainly farming) that never made a penny. Huxley and her husband, fora certain period, were also obsessed with farming ventures in England, none of which were profitable. Huxley's attitude to money was also quaintly reminiscent of the period - she always complained of not having enough money and introduced economising measures in her household, yet (in between writing assignments) seemed to spend a lot of time on holiday trips.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
The book is a grounding account of Elspeth Huxley and provides the context from which her books sprang. As her books have shown the unglamourous hard graft that white colonial society endured to attempt to begin "new lives" the book shows how her life continued to be one of hard work and constant "at the coal face" ideals; it is an interesting contrast to some of the high society, party images that come out in some of the literature of this time. It is not though as exciting book; Ms Huxley lead an interesting, but not dramatic life and for this reason it is a defintely interesting read for fans of her books as it peppers the reader with more information. For those unaware of her books/ her life it may be less interesting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Maisa Mäkinen on 19 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting and informative book. I have since my childhood read about Africa and biographies and stories related to it. This is a reliable source of happenings putting several exaggerations and stories to rights.
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By Alexandra Star on 24 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent, thank you!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An apology of Huxley's racism and colonialism 29 July 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having loved The Flame Trees of Thika (both book and PBS Masterpiece Theater series), I eagerly awaited this biography of author, conservationist, and defender of colonialist England -and for the most part it doesn't disappoint. Huxley is a difficult subject to pin down politically, as her opinions shifted with the tide of the changing times. She lived through the fall and failure of the colonial period, and her best and most loving writing comes from the era when it was in full bloom: the period around both sides of the First World War. As an old woman (she lived to age 90) in the mid 90s, she still held to some of her beliefs concerning the benefits of English rule of Africa.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Interesting 2 Sept. 2003
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
With Liberia making headlines as to send or not to send that is the president's question (it only took fourteen years and three administrations to get to that point), a biography on Elspeth Huxley, known for her writings on Africa, seems timely. The book provides a fascinating glimpse of what seems like an archaic philosophy today, but only a few decades ago was acceptable. C.S. Nicholls analyzes Huxley's vast works that for the most part defend the English dominant position in much of Africa throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
The biography is extremely strong when the author paints an insightful and propitious picture that enables readers to better understand bygone eras. Huxley lived for most of the century (1907-1997) and what she supported through her writings has been one of the key factors that later led to much of the devastation that the continent has faced since the 1960s and 1970s independence movements succeeded. The only flaw is that author C.S. Nicholls rationalizes Huxley's defense of white colonialism, turning the biographer into an apologist rather than being a historiographer and thereby placing Huxley in a wider social text. Still the book is well written and will keep readers interested in a proficient, but not popular defender of the crown.
Harriet Klausner
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Elspeth Huxley 23 Nov. 2010
By Toni - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting biography of the famed Kenyan writer. Easy to read. There was so much more to her interesting life than just her famed books about her childhood.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Five Stars 17 Jan. 2015
By James L. Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting book.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Four Stars 4 Mar. 2015
By Gisela Fuller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written
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