There were already at least two biographies of Kingsley Amis in print when Professor Bradford wrote this one. Professor Bradford's biography is both complete and well-written.
It is marred, however, by Professor Bradford's insistence that "Amis's fiction (is) one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking autobiographies ever produced." His point is not simply that Amis has modeled some characters on people he has known, nor that some events are paralleled in Amis's life. Virtually every writer of fiction draws from his life. He goes much further than that, claiming that nearly every character in Amis's novels and stories is intended to be Amis himself or somebody that Amis knew.
He starts with the contention that Jim Dixon, the protagonist of Lucky Jim, Amis's first and perhaps best-known novel, is Amis himself. Dixon, fresh out of college, is teaching in an obscure English college. Amis began teaching at University College of Swansea in Wales while completing his graduate thesis at Oxford. The parallels break down there, however. The plot of Lucky Jim involves Dixon's jettisoning his unattractive, somewhat mentally ill girlfriend and acquiring an attractive, nice blonde one. Amis married an attractive blonde woman while still at Oxford, more than a year before he began teaching at Swansea. Central to the plot of Lucky Jim is Dixon's status as an outsider, never explicitly stated but implied by many things, including the fact that he is from the north of England with an accent that immediately identifies him as such and the fact that he attended a university of no particular prestige (a passage in the third chapter hints that it may be the University of Leicester). Amis, by contrast, was born and raised in London, and, by Bradford's own account had a BBC accent. As already noted, he was an Oxford graduate. Whatever else Amis was, he was not an outsider, at least not by virtue of his birthplace, accent, or university education.
On and on it goes, with Bradford claiming that Simona Quick, the waif-like nineteen-year-old in I Want It Now, is really Jane Howard, Amis's second wife, who was in her mid-forties at the period in which the book was written and takes place, that Amis has split himself between two characters in Girl, 20, that the ten-year-old boy who is to be castrated to preserve his pure, youthful voice in The Alteration is in fact Amis in his mid-fifties, worried about declining .... prowess, and that Amis has split himself into four different characters in The Old Devils, attributing to them such unusual characteristics as the fact that they all drink too much.
Bradford and his editor also get some facts wrong, either by design or by laziness. On page 206, he claims that, in One Fat Englishman, "Micheldene is obliged to take part in a game of charades and is asked to become the embodiment of 'Englishness'". In fact, the other characters try to act "Britishly", and it is Micheldene who is to guess what the word is. This is not a very important point, but consulting the novel itself is all that is necessary to get it right.
Similarly, Bradford, in claiming that Jake Richardson, the title character of Jake's Thing, is actually an older Jim Dixon (who, by Bradford's thesis, is Amis under a different name), asserts on page 305 that "Jake's given name is James", while, in the novel itself, Jake's given name is, in fact, Jaques, pronounced "Jakes". One might argue that the French "Jacques" (Richardson's ancestors came from France) is the equivalent of the English "James", but the chain of reasoning is now one link longer, and, once again, consulting the novel would have been sufficient to provide correct information.