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John Aubrey: My Own Life

Scurr, Ruth

Published by Chatto & Windus
ISBN 10: 0701179074 / ISBN 13: 9780701179076
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Bibliographic Details

Title: John Aubrey: My Own Life

Publisher: Chatto & Windus

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New


John Aubrey loved England. From an early age, he saw his England slipping away and, against extraordinary odds, committed himself to preserving for posterity what remained of it - in books, monuments and life stories. This book deals with his life and work. Num Pages: 544 pages, 8. BIC Classification: 1DBKE; 3JD; BGH; HBJD1; HBLH. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 245 x 165 x 51. Weight in Grams: 934. . 2015. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780701179076

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
4 avg rating
(10 ratings)


Anno 1634, Easton Pierse

I was born about sun rising in my maternal grandfather's bedchamber on 12th March 1626. St. Gregory's Day, very sickly, likely to die.

John Aubrey loved England. From an early age, he saw his England slipping away and, against extraordinary odds, committed himself to preserving for posterity what remained of it - in books, monuments and life stories. His Brief Lives would redefine the art of biography yet he published only one rushed, botched book in his lifetime and died fearing his name and achievements would be forgotten.

Ruth Scurr's biography is an act of scholarly imagination: a diary drawn from John Aubrey's own words, displaying his unique voice, dry wit, the irreverence and drama of a literary pioneer. Aubrey saw himself modestly as a collector of a vanishing past, a 'scurvy antiquary'. But he was also one of the pioneers of modern writing, a journalist before the age of journalism, who witnessed the Civil War and the Great Fire of London in the company of some of the influential men and women, high and low, whose lives he would make his legacy.

John Aubrey's own life was a poignant personal and financial struggle to record the doings of great men and the relics of antiquity, the habits of Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton and Thomas Hobbes, the stones of Stonehenge and the stained glass of forgotten churches. In this genre-defying account, rich with the London taverns and elegiac landscapes of an England he helped to preserve, Ruth Scurr has resurrected John Aubrey as a potent spirit for our own time.

Review: " My Own Life is light, ingenious, inspiring, a book to reread and cherish. The vigour and spirit on every page would delight John Aubrey, that most individual of thinkers and writers, who has found a biographer of originality and wit. It is reverent, charming, poignant: it is made of the same ingredients as its subject." (Hilary Mantel)

"Another writer of brief lives, Lytton Strachey, feared that in our modern civilization John Aubrey would 'never come into existence again'. But that is exactly what he does in Ruth Scurr's absorbing and imaginative biography. In these pages his purchase on posterity returns with all his ingenious visions and impulses. Scurr is no less a pioneer biographer than Aubrey himself." (Michael Holroyd)

"Writing a biography of a biographer that doubles as an experimental analysis of biography itself is a formidable and astonishing achievement. That it is also profoundly affecting is what makes John Aubrey: My own life a triumph" (Stuart Kelly The Times Literary Supplement)

"To me this book is a delight and?it is the one that I would take with me to a desert island" (David Aaronovitch The Times)

"For me, the academic historian, Scurr?s experimental ?act of scholarly imagination? has already modified significantly my own historical understanding" (Lisa Jardine Financial Times)

"[A] moving and delicate book" (Frances Wilson New Statesman)

"Scurr?s judgment and scholarship in constructing Aubrey?s own account of events are so flawless that she allows us almost to forget that she is there" (Alexandra Harris Guardian)

"The marriage of [Aubrey?s] words and Scurr?s is so smoothly achieved that I have no idea where one leaves off and the other intervenes" (Allan Massie Scotsman)

"Scurr?s imaginative feat of retrieval has produced a perfect book for dipping into when you want a taste of what it was like to be alive in the 17th century" (John Carey Sunday Times)

"It is a testament to [Scurr?s] skill that you quickly stop thinking about technique and instead slip happily into the company of the character she has created. The wealth of research and the seams between imagination and reality disappear from view. This is truly selfless biography" (Daisy Hay, 5 stars Daily Telegraph)

"A delightful read about the ebb and flow of thoughts in one extraordinary man?s mind" (Claire Harman Evening Standard)

"Drawing on [Aubrey?s] manuscripts and letters, [Ruth Scurr] has fashioned, as chronologically as possible, an autobiography in the form of the diary that Aubrey never wrote. It fits him perfectly? Ms Scurr has done him proud" ( The Economist)

"Aubrey was a delightful, self-deprecating man ... A conventional biography of Aubrey could easily have become a portrait of the time through which he had lived, allowing the man himself to be overshadowed ... Instead, Ruth Scurr has invented the diary Aubrey might have written, incorporating his own chaotic, sometimes scrappy literary remains to form a continuous narrative. ... lucky him to have been accorded a biography as whimsical as his own self." (Clive Aslet Country Life)

"It is a bold and brilliant experiment, but it suits the fragmentary nature of Aubrey's work and life." (Andrew Brown Sunday Telegraph)

"I wasn?t sure that I was going to like this biography? By the time I?d finished it, however, I was won over" (Clive Aslet Country Life)

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