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Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson's 'Dear Mistress' Hardcover – 6 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (6 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845294491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845294496
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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An reassessment of [Hester] is long overdue ... Ian McIntyre has risen to the challenge, bringing to life this effervescent character and society ... Crisp and exact. (Daily Telegraph)

An elegant and witty examination of an era of wit and intellectual elegance: quite simply, one of the best biographies I've ever read. (Tibor Fischer)

I have read Ian MacIntyre's Hester with sustained pleasure at its calm narrative nicely spiced with the hot stuff of Mrs Thrale's ups and downs. The greatest pleasure is in the clever accumulation of detail; the spirit of adventure in Georgian life, and its breadth of cultured reading, suggests an England at once more rugged and more cultivated than today's. Ian MacIntyre wears his learning lightly and brings Dr Johnson's favourite female stridingly to life. (Frederic Raphael)

[A] marvellously rich biography (Frances Wilson The Sunday Times)

Packed with fascinating information and gives a taste of life in Georgian England...remarkable (Sunday Express)

At last [Hester] has been given a detailed and sympathetic hearing (Kate Chisholm The Spectator)

Supremely entertaining (Tibor Fischer)

Fascinating (Telegraph)

A story of a remarkable if not altogether likeable woman, well told (Sunday Telegraph)

The best biography of the year (The Tablet)

McIntyre is to be commended for portraying Hester's variability as the source of her strength rather than as a feminine weakness. In his affection and respect for her intellectual curiosity, emotional resilience and relish for life, he presents us with an 18th -century sensibility no less representative than Johnson's, but one demanding recognition rather than reverence. (London Review of Books)



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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Tucker on 30 July 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who was Mrs Thrale, née Hester Lynch Salusbury, a child prodigy, who became by second marriage Mrs Piozzi? This biography tells you the basic story, well organised, well written, the best there is.
Probably the liveliest woman of her age, here is a sample from p175 of Ian McIntyre's book: "Miss Owen and Miss Burney asked me if I had never been in Love; With myself said I, & most passionately. When any Man likes me I am never surprised, for I think how should he help it? When any Man does not (underlined) like me, I think him a Blockhead, & there's an End of the matter."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Blue Lady 16 Feb. 2009
By Christian Schlect - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people, I think, will be initially interested in this book due to the role played by Mrs. Thrale in the life of Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Readers should know that Mr. McIntyre takes his job of biographer seriously and goes into great detail about all stages of the long life (80 years) of Hester Salusbury (then Thrale, then Piozzi). Unfortunately, much of this book covers ground not trod by the Great Cham.

Absent a keen desire to learn about the talented Mrs. Thrale's own literary efforts, first or second husbands, her alienation from her surviving daughters, her ungrateful adopted son, and/or her late life infatuation with a hack actor, a potential reader may be better off to pick up a simple summary article on Mrs. Thrale for background on this woman's significant connection with Dr. Johnson.
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