Joseph Mallord William Turner is Britain's greatest and most mysterious artist, whose range of work encompasses seascape and land-scape, immensely powerful oil paintings and intimate watercolours. The son of a Covent Garden barber and a woman who dies in Bethlehem mental hospital, Turner achieved fame and fortune during his lifetime. Although he possessed a wide-ranging imagination, he was an often incoherent speaker and writer, and his muddled will produced much discord. It is a wonder that, despite avaricious relatives and incompetent lawyers, so many of his works are now in the hands of the nation, and publicly proclaim his genius. Anthony Bailey has set out to write a biography of the man, not a book about his paintings, and Turner comes wonderfully to life in these pages. Both lonely and gregarious, private and vainglorious, Turner's character was full of contradictions and Anthony Bailey rises to the challenge to describe them.
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Anthony Bailey was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire in 1933. During the Second World War he was evacuated to Dayton, Ohio, where for the duration he became part of the family of Otto and Eloise Spaeth, who had one of the finest art collections in the middle west. He did his National Service with the West African Frontier force and then read modern history at Merton College, Oxford. For many years he was a writer for The New Yorker magazine. His books include the novel Major Andre, a collection of reports on Ireland, Acts of Union; the memoirs America, Lost and Found and England, First and last; and the biographical study of another great painter, Rembrandt's House. Anthony Bailey now lives in Greenwich but spends several months a year in New England. His wife Margot Speight is a writer and artist. They have four daughters and five grandchildren.
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