Obituaries found their modern form in the printed paper in the mid-1990s, were on the website by the end of the decade, and these days also come via mobiles, tablets and Twitter (@guardianobits). Each provides a compelling first impression of the story of a life: the background to the achievements, the setbacks overcome and the chance events and encounters along the way. There are new insights to be gained about even most familiar figures.
Included in this ebook are the very best obituaries to have appeared in the Guardian in 2012. Characterised by wonderfully original writing, they capture the lives of, among others: Whitney Houston, Etta James, Maurice Sendak, Vidal Sassoon, Nora Ephron, Neil Armstrong, Eric Hobsbawm and Sir Patrick Moore.