The Other Elizabeth Taylor Paperback – 23 Apr 2009
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About the Author
Nicola Beauman, b. 1944, is the author of three previous books: A Very Great Profession: The Woman's Novel 1914-39, Cynthia Asquith (1987) and Morgan: a life of EM Forster (1993). In 1999 she founded Persephone Books.
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Top Customer Reviews
This situation must pose a dilemma to any biographer. Nicola Beauman had permission from John Taylor to write this biography but as it has been some fifteen years in the making, one assumes that the children were perhaps not told of this projected book by their father or were hoping that perhaps it would never happen. This is pure conjecture on my part.
So what does a biographer do?
A few weeks ago I attended a play The Fascinating Mrs Inchbald at the Theatre Royal at Bury St Edmunds, a one hander, written and acted by the author. Elizabeth Inchbald was a well known actress and playwright of her time and a theme of the play was the guarding of her reputation. The point was made that the name of Mary Wollstonecraft, a friend of Mrs Inchbald, had been tarnished after her death because of the memoir written about her by her widower, Charles Godwin and that we remember more of the scandalous facts about her than anything else.Read more ›
Beauman, publisher of Persephone Books, had to wait fifteen years before being able to publish this biography, greatly to the dismay of her children. It's hard to wonder what they objected to. Her joining the Communist Party when she was supposed to be a genteel middle-class wife in Bucks? Her affair? There's much more here than readers of Tea At Mrs. Lippincote's might guess - though another Taylor gem, A Game of Hide and Seek is more appropriate.
Taylor's fiction is never comforting, but always shot through with wit and brilliance. She never got her just recognition unlike contemporaries such as Elizabeth Bowen. Beauman is almost too ardent a fan, but makes her case well, writing always with elegance and, one feels, considerable tact. She uncovers a treasure trove of letters to a former lover Ray Russell which (unlike those which her husband and the writer Robert Liddell faihtfully destroyed) allow us to see her as a person and a writer. Beauman is absolutely right to say that the persona carefully buil,t by Taylor in her lifetime has adversely affected her readership. This meticulous account, though no doubt not a full one, will do much to place her back where she belongs as one of the best novelists of her time.
I discovered this book quite by chance and read it pretty quickly. It's well written, honest and a wonderful book to refer to when reading Elizabeth's novels. I cannot fault this biography at all and am deeply grateful to Nicola Beauman for writing it [and having the persistence to see such a long project through to the end].
I am only sorry that Elizabeth's children are not happy about it's publication for it does nothing to detract from their mother's work and will [I hope] encourage more people to read her wonderful stories.
This is not a book full of revelations or scandal for Elizabeth's life wasn't like that. Her family took first place and everything else was secondary. But this book does help the reader to understand her novels, what inspired them and how she felt about them.
A fantastic book.
I'm not sure that a chronological approach of Taylor's life works: there's a lot of repetition. I kept going because I admire Taylor's work so much and in her novels we recognise her daughter's delightful description of, "Her kindness, passionate desire to see people treated fairly, wonderful sense of humour..." which somehow is never conveyed in this account of her.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It must be very difficult to cobble together a biography based on such an intensely private writer of whom I can't say I feel I know much more about than before I read Ms Beauman's... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miss Chinaski
Item arrived promptly and as described. An excellent read, both for info re E Taylor and re life in those times.Published 6 months ago by JLCGladstone
... painfully over-indulgent. The author rejects criticism of Taylor; some of which - we learn - even originated with fellow women! Read morePublished on 20 May 2014 by Mr. Paul Barnes
'Literary' biographers often become too possessive of their subjects (readers too). Nicola Beauman would rather Elizabeth Taylor had led another life, a bohemian one, with... Read morePublished on 14 Sept. 2013 by terence dooley
More biographical detail would help. A sense that ( inevitable? ) gaps were dealt with by giving excessive summaries of plots. Well-written but unsatisfying in that respect. Read morePublished on 26 July 2012 by alice b
Reading this biography left me with a lingering sadness for an unfulfilled life and it certainly sheds light on the novels which, though I read them avidly one after another, all... Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2011 by Joyeuse
This is an utterly compelling work, detailed, and written with a great deal of sympathy for all the parties involved. Read morePublished on 2 Jan. 2010 by A. Hope
This biography - overdue owing to the courtesy of the biographer in relation to the subject's family - is about as good as it gets. Read morePublished on 29 Sept. 2009 by Stephen Wakelam
Essential reading for any fan of Elizabeth Taylor's books. With fascinating new insights and information, this biography is beautifully and compellingly written, such that one is... Read morePublished on 27 May 2009 by Lou Dudley