Kenneth Williams: Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams Paperback – 7 Jul 2011
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Christopher Stevens's diligent biography offers illuminating insights into Kenneth Williams's work and inner life. Underpinned by a warm sympathy, Born Brilliant is often revealing and . . . well-written (Sunday Telegraph)
The book does something interesting and necessary. There is a danger with any book on Williams of just further nailing down the received wisdom: that he was entirely morbid, socially inadequate and consumed by guilt. What Stevens manages to do, even as he throws out all the examples of The Fear, is retune the accepted facts a little and tell the story not just of the melancholia but also of the happiness (Herald)
Christopher Stevens has written a solid, workmanlike, authorised biography of this least solid or workmanlike or authorised of figures (Mail on Sunday)
Stevens adeptly captures the mercurial temperament and frequent malice. For all his flaws, however, Williams remains lovable, to his devoted friends and fans, as well as to Stevens' readers (Metro)
Stevens has done a grand job of reconciling the public and private Williamses (Daily Telegraph)
Williams gets the biography he deserves: impeccably researched, compelling and, despite everything, sympathetic (Scotsman)
a portrait far more sympathetic than the ascerbic one conjured by Williams' edited diary extracts in l993 (Independent)
Excellent biography (Choice)
Stevens has unearthed a great deal of new material (TLS)
The authorised full story of the troubled and brilliant comic genius that was Kenneth WilliamsSee all Product description
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A complex fascinating and brilliant personality. Reading Born Brilliant has sent me searching through archive film to rediscover someone I loved watching as a child.
I was a fan of his but am relieved never to have met him, for he could be very unpleasant. The book mentions his appearances on Countdown during the early years of the programme but does not state whether the contributions ceased because of his frequent rudeness to the contesatants or for other reasons.
Another omission is reference any to Carry on Texas, which if it had been made with a decent script might have revived the series and led to further funny films.
The difficulty facing Christopher Stevens was many of Kenneth's associates are still alive and a certain
discretion had to be applied in deciding which stories could be told. Without reading Kenneth's full diaries it is hard to judge how well he did the job.
It is a pity Kenneth Williams never played a major dramatic role on television once he became a star. He undoubtedly had the talent to be famous as a serious actor and if he had applied himself in a major role his reputation would have been enhanced.
A book for all Kenneth Williams fans and one of interest to anyone who with an interest in comedy
I think its worth a read even for NON-avid fans.
Well worth a go.
While it's much more sympathetic than the depressing TV depiction "Fantabulosa" (which Mr Stevens rightly criticises), the book tends to confirm that Kenneth Williams had a life of wasted opportunities: that he could have been wealthy and internationally famous, but was held back by his character flaws and inability to grasp new opportunities.
A well-illustrated, engrossing read.