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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Very Readable Biography
This well written, excellent, biography by Nigel Jones covers all aspects of the complicated and self-destructive life of the novelist and playwright Patrick Hamilton. It tracks his early life in Hove and the contrasting relationship he had with his bullying, drunk, father and his over-close mother. Jones is able to demonstrate very clearly how Hamilton's life and...
Published on 19 Feb 2010 by Dr. R. Brandon

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton seen through his brother's eyes
I only discovered Patrick Hamilton about a year ago and have since read several of his best novels with great admiration.

Hamilton's subject matter - lonely, confused people trying to cope with life usually through alcohol and false friendships - is depressing but his skill as a writer keeps the reader enthralled.

It comes as no surprise from this...
Published on 5 April 2012 by John Fitzpatrick


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Very Readable Biography, 19 Feb 2010
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
This well written, excellent, biography by Nigel Jones covers all aspects of the complicated and self-destructive life of the novelist and playwright Patrick Hamilton. It tracks his early life in Hove and the contrasting relationship he had with his bullying, drunk, father and his over-close mother. Jones is able to demonstrate very clearly how Hamilton's life and interests were reflected in his novels and plays. The book tracks the clear arc of creativity from Hamilton's immature early work, through his most gifted and perceptive period of 'Twenty Thousand Streets' to 'Slaves of Solitude' and the plays 'Rope' and 'Gaslight', to his decline and the unsatisfactory 'Gorse' novels. Money and success enabled Hamilton to indulge in his two self destructive pastimes of drink and adulterous relationships and Jones expertly guides us through this sad decline. This superbly crafted work by Jones must stand as the definitive biography of Hamilton and will, undoubtedly, aid appreciation of this somewhat neglected author for many years to come. An excellent work recommended from all points of view.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, tragic story, 26 April 2009
This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
This is a wonderful biography of a writer who deserves to better known. The author had done some wonderful research and writes in a lucid style, showing a fully mastery of his subject. His analysis of both Hamilton's character and his work is superb, and the saga has an unbearable poignancy as Hamilton sinks into whisky-soaked decline. Magnificent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light on a dark soul., 29 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
This fascinating biography is in many ways as much the account of an extraordinary family as a chronicle of the rise and fall of an eccentric and driven literary talent. The bullying, boastful, but seriously insecure, Bernard and the long-suffering but suffocating Nellie raise three talented but damaged children. Neither Lalla nor Patrick shakes off the influence of these two very different, but equally powerful figures. Both pursue sexual pleasures as one route to escape and both become the victims of alcohol. Bernard, himself a heavy drinker with literary aspirations, continues to trouble Patrick and is never fully exorcised. He appears in many guises in the novels, most tellingly and loathsomely perhaps as the brilliantly realised sadistic bully Thwaites in "The Slaves of Solitude", a man of innate abilities in full flight from his inner terrors at the expense of any sensitive victim he can waylay, here the gentle and kindly Miss Roach.

The most extraordinary relationship is that with Patrick's elder brother, Bruce. Although based in Barbados for most of his adult life, Bruce is the one unrelentingly solid pillar in Patrick's unstable world. Himself a published novelist, Patrick's success and well-being remain his overriding concern. Despite long periods in which Patrick all but ignores him, lies to him and resents his moral shadow, Bruce never wavers in his support and admiration, negotiating his way through Patrick's neurotic need to nail his colours to whatever mast comes to hand, whether political - his not altogether convincing flirtation with communism, to his later shift to the right - and to his sexual infatuations and callous indifference to the feelings of his wives.

With skill Nigel Jones weaves the intricacies of this claustrophobically close family into serious, balanced and frequently perceptive insights into the writer. Patrick's world was a narrow one, London and its suburbs and more particularly the literary watering holes and underside of displaced individuals like himself. Although it is the film world that brings Patrick the public profile and wealth to further pursue his indulgences, it is the best of the novels that most fully reveal the originality of his talent. Both "The Slaves of Solitude" and "Hangover Square", now re-discovered and republished, should ensure that Patrick Hamilton is once more widely read. This wholly absorbing, involved but dispassionate biography itself deserves a wide readership and is likely to send most to explore the work of this wonderfully talented and self-destructive man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Through a Glass Darkly, 2 Mar 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
This is a fascinating portrait of a talented author, whose reputation and works have been highly regarded but often been neglected when compared to other writers from the same era. It follows Patrick Hamilton’s life from the third child of a braggart and bully of a father and a possessive and adored mother to his decline and descent into alcoholism. Nigel Jones examines the family of Patrick Hamilton in detail, especially the relationship with his beloved mother and his older brother, Bruce. It is a fact that his family, although relatively wealthy and comfortable, were not all that they seemed and it is this discrepancy between the view shown to the world and the reality which highlights Hamilton’s distrustful and cynical nature, as well as his tendency to self destruct.

Another important event in Patrick Hamilton’s world view came through his family and their declining fortunes around the time of the first world war, which led to him moving into a series of boarding houses, cheap hotels and rented rooms, mostly with his mother. This insight into the world of genteel poverty and dispossessed, lonely people marked him as a writer, as did his reliance on alcohol and his time spent with streetwalkers and in public houses.

This book takes us through Hamilton’s life – his marriages, the road accident he had which affected him greatly and, most importantly, his work. This includes his early love of poetry, novels and plays. At times you feel that the author had so much information available from his brother Bruce that the relationship was given possibly more importance than it merited. However, this is a good assessment of his work, life and how his reputation has changed over the years. It is a shame that his works have been often neglected over the years, as was a powerful and important author. If you are interested in what made him the writer he was, then this is a good account of his life and work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through a life decently., 3 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
I encountered Hamilton's writing many years ago and fell in love with what I read. Jones's biog is balanced, warm and readable and although some have complained that he was so reliant on his best source (Patrick's brother) that in his writing he was perhaps overkind to said brother I barely noticed this, even on a re-read. The two brothers were very close as children and young men although with some sibling rivalry.
As a (struggling) writer, and too close to the booze myself, I appreciated Hamilton's honesty about his life and his inability to stop alcohol eventually destroying his career. And what would a sober Hamilton have gone to write is, of course, a very reasonable question.
I feel that Jones has done a pretty good job as a researcher and scribe about the extraordinary life of such remarkable writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone interested in Patrick Hamilton, 26 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
I first read this book in June 2012, and then reread it in March 2014 having read all of Patrick Hamilton's novels in the interim (excepting Monday Morning which is out of print but scheduled to be republished soon), and I enjoyed this biography every bit as much second time round, and discovered that being more familiar with the novels made the experience even richer and more rewarding.

This is a splendid biography of a wonderful writer. Nigel Jones manages to critique and contextualise all of Patrick Hamilton's works whilst also providing a well written account of his life. To one degree or another all of Patrick Hamilton's work is based on his tortured life - sometimes to an extraordinary degree. Nigel Jones skilfully weaves all these biographical strands to help explain one of the most complex, interesting and enduring twentieth century English writers.

Essential reading for anyone interested in Patrick Hamilton.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brighton Hove Hamilton, 23 April 2011
This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
As someone who had not read the novels but had seen Hitchcock's "Rope" (an unliked version of the play) and read Nick Hornby's recommendation in one of his books, I found Nigel Jones's biography of Patick Hamilton fascinating ( even though sometimes like watching a car crash - of which there are two in the book!). This was a life that started with a troubled childhood, went on through a drink addled adult life and ended in an alcoholic, tragic and depressed death. This was a writer that in his time came close to matching Greene and Isherwood in terms of reputation. Throughout all this though you get an idea of the writer's development through his theatre and novels. Most touching is the devotion to this egocentric and politically and emotionally troubled person by his brother Bruce right to the end. I'll now read the novels with interest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 18 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
A very well-written and thoroughly-researched biography of one of the best English novelists of the Twentieth Century. It is a sympathetic account of Hamilton's life but far from a hagiography and Jones doesn't shy away from showing the subject as a very flawed individual in many ways. A must-read for all who are Hamilton fans and highly recommended to those who are not.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hamilton seen through his brother's eyes, 5 April 2012
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
I only discovered Patrick Hamilton about a year ago and have since read several of his best novels with great admiration.

Hamilton's subject matter - lonely, confused people trying to cope with life usually through alcohol and false friendships - is depressing but his skill as a writer keeps the reader enthralled.

It comes as no surprise from this book to learn that Hamilton's own life mirrored that of many of his characters and he died of alcoholism in his late 50s.

His life was marked by horrific road accident that scarred him physically and mentally and his relations were women were odd, to say the least, but Nigel Jones makes little of this.

Instead we have a rather plodding account of someone who spent most of his time in the same part of the world, did not travel much and seems to have lived such an uneventful existence that one wonders whether a biography of this length was even necessary.

In fact, it is through the eyes of Hamilton's brother Bruce - and not the biographer's - that we get any insight at all.

Jones uses so much material from Hamilton's brother - who wrote a memoir and gave him access to unpublished material - that Bruce should have been given a co-billing.

This is not to say that this book is not worth reading.

Jones gives a good interpretation of Hamilton's works and his presentation of Hamilton's eccentric father is lively and amusing. However, overall it is a rather run of the mill performance.
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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing author!, 11 Aug 2009
By 
Enid Irving "enid" (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton (Paperback)
I have only just discovered this author - brilliant - read his 20,000 Streets Under the Sky.
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Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton
Through a Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton by Nigel Jones (Paperback - 10 July 2008)
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