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Margrave Of The Marshes [Hardcover]

John Peel , John Ravenscroft , Alexandra Ravenscroft , Florence Ravenscroft , Sheila Ravenscroft , Thomas Ravenscroft , William Ravenscroft
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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Book Description

17 Oct 2005
Despite the number of claims in publishers blurbs, not many people actually achieve the status of legend in their own lifetime. Fewer still actually deserve that status. John Peel is the exception which proves that rule, a Great Briton whose contribution to British culture is undeniable, without whom popular culture would never have become popular. Beloved by millions – whether for his unstinting championing of musical talent on Radio 1 or for his wildly popular Radio 4 show Home Truths – this is the astonishing book he began to write before his untimely death in October 2004, completed by the woman who knew him best, his wife Sheila. The first half of the book, written by John, describes with characteristic humour his early life, from child to man, including his school days and National Service. You can hear the unique Peel voice in every sentence - rarely, if ever, before has a voice been so successfully transferred to paper. The second section, written by Peel's wife and soulmate of many years, Sheila Ravenscroft, gives us an intimate portrait of the man and his music, and the highs and the lows of everyday life at Peel Acres. The completion of this book has been a labour of love for John's family and their passion has paid off. It's every bit as extraordinary as the man himself and a fitting tribute to a bona fide legend.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (17 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593052528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593052525
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.6 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 479,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Peel was born the day before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. His 38-year career as a radio DJ is the stuff of legend and the bands he went on to discover too numerous to mention, though David Bowie, Roxy Music, T Rex, Genesis, Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Radiohead and the White Stripes would do as a start. He lived in Suffolk with his wife Sheila and their children William, Thomas, Alexandra and Florence, plus various dogs and cats, until his death in October 2004.

Product Description


'... An honest and intelligent book.' -- Independent

'... Tender and acute ... underlines the one truth that Peel understood better than anyone ... [what] really mattered was the music.' -- Independent on Sunday

'An engaging portrait of a shy, loving and complex man ... whose passion for music never dimmed ...' -- Daily Express

'As with the man himself ... there's the surprising, the cosy ... and the fascinating.' -- GQ

'It's like listening to the story of a much missed friend ...' -- Radio Times

Book Description

The autobiography of a legend, completed by the woman who knew him best

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Johnentwistlespout VINE VOICE
Peel had been planning this book for several years but alas begun writing it too late - he died half way through. Fortunately Sheila "Pig" was so close to her husband that she has no problem whatsoever completing it in a way that is still incredibly satisfying; she seems to have shared many of his friends and experiences so very little is lost to the world. It also helps that Peel left a brief synopsis of what he saw the book including in the form of a letter to his publisher (included in the appendix), almost everything he wanted to incorporate is here - it's just a pity that the second half of the book doesn't feature the dry humour that was unique to the great man, I would have loved the have read his thoughts on some later events. What Sheila does give us is a clear depiction of a man completely in love with music and life, it is fascinating to read about his approach to listening to demos and the organisation of his shows (like so many people out there I was involved in a band who got played on Peels show and was over the moon to receive a note from him - I now have the added bonus of being able to picture how the great event happened!). It's a fairly large book this, but then John Peel was a larger than life character so that's no surprise, what is a surprise is how much he gives us in the way of personal thoughts and extremely difficult and shocking events in his life. This is a truly affecting autobiography and a million miles away from the glossy, self congratulatory rubbish that almost every other "celebrity" churns out. After reading this fantastic book I deeply regretted not having listened to John Peels shows more and above all I was simply left wishing that he was still around. What a disaster for music his death was but thankgod we have this to remember him by.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20th Century Man 6 Nov 2005
It is almost impossible to define the subject and as a result the book soon after his nationally mourned death, though I have tried many times.
To say this man was a consistent hero in my life should tell you something, that his contradiction in character from the music he loved and the family life he lived provided and provides a unique insight into music and times of 20th Century culture in the UK.
This is a book written by him and continued by his wife in the style and honesty that if you were fortunate to have listened to broadcasts first hand does not disappoint and leaves you happy that it is always time well spent.
To others who want to understand more about the general subject of English life then I can think of no better starting point as it is written in his engaging style, honest and without patronising it stimulates further interest in the material it covers which is diverse.
At the gigs he attended, quietly standing at the bar, you wished that you had had the chance to go over and say hello, this book is a record of what you might of learned further if you had been brave enough to do it, or had not wanted to interrupt his enjoyment of music he truly loved to love.
A great read that fills a hole in the void that he leaves in modern pop culture, knowing that his roots go back to the earliest pop and rock records of the 50's, and knowing that he was always down to earth as a result of this depth, you will perhaps understand why he is sorely missed. And if you do already you might a little less.
I can't write a book review in a style he would approve of, or would have liked to! But there it is, hope it encourages you to read this great book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I remember John Peel from my adolescent years in the late seventies when listening to his show on Radio 1 gave me an appreciation for a huge variety of music. The man was a complete master in promoting bands and music that would otherwise have never got the airing they richly deserved. I regrettably drifted away from listening to him as I grew up and only in the last few years am I rediscovering the music I used to listen to then. I remember the day it was announced on the radio that he had died and I must admit I was really surprised by my reaction to the news. It really did feel that someone who was close to me or a part of me had died that day and I felt very, very sad. I chose to read this book as I began to realise there was so much more to John Peel than the few years I was a regular listener to his show.

I have to say this is a superb piece of work. It's witty, informative, sad and in places hilariously funny. The first half was written by John himself and takes us to the time when he started DJing in the US in the early to mid sixties. It is excellently written and conveys, in the same way as he always did on the radio, that John was really just an ordinary bloke, what you saw (heard) was the real man.

The second half of the book was written by his wife, Sheila with help from their kids and it perfectly blends and complements John's writing in the first half. It really is an excellent read and at the end so very, very sad.

I would recommend anybody to read this.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 17 Sep 2006
I've just finished the Peel biography and my eyes are still moist at the realisation that he really is no more yet I chortled out loud at some of the anecdotes, both his own and those of his wife. I defy anyone to read it and not hear it read in John's dry Liverpudlian tones in their heads. I just wish he'd been with us long enough to finish his own autobiog and then we could've had two books -- Peel's and Pig's. Hope there's some decent music up there mate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived on time, no problems. Ideal
Published 1 month ago by Simon Button
5.0 out of 5 stars Margrave of the Marshes
This was not the best autobiography I have ever read although it wasn't the worst either, In hindsight I probably wouldn't have bought it if I had known.
Published 11 months ago by J. M. Whitaker
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Man
John Peel - a fascinating man.

The book was quite an insight into a great man.
Of course, we will never know if there had not been a John Peel, whether someone else... Read more
Published 12 months ago by David L
4.0 out of 5 stars book
Very interesting book about his life and times.a tragedy he died when he did.It leaves you wondering how much more would have been said about certain colleagues he worked with. Read more
Published 14 months ago by 200colin
2.0 out of 5 stars Peel the family man, not the music champion
I have to admit I wasn't a particular follower of John Peel and this book is much more about the man himself rather than the artists or bands he championed. Read more
Published 15 months ago by jol legend
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD READ
A compelling read which is sure to revive memories in those of us of a similar birth date as John Peel. Read more
Published 16 months ago by LizSomerset
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Christmas present!
I bought this to go with the other John Peel autobiography (Margrave) but, as it was a present, I don't know what the recipient thought of it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Guess Who
5.0 out of 5 stars Great man, great book
Don't even hesitate to buy this if you've always wondered about John Peel- a very good book. And a great job done by his family to finish where he left off.
Published 20 months ago by A. Pain
5.0 out of 5 stars John brought back to life
Am excellent book. A great pity John could not finish it himself but the input from Shiela gives a different twist and further insights. Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2012 by W. Mcgregor
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book in 2 Sessions
I listened breathlessly to the early 80's broadcasts of Peel on Radio 1. The main reason, it is not surprising, was the music he played: Always new, always unknown and always... Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2011 by gonnemans
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