Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (King Penguin)

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9780140088601: Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (King Penguin)

Richard Holmes’s great work of biographical exploration, rejacketed and republished alongside its sister volume ‘Sidetracks’.

In 1985, Richard Holmes published a small book of essays called ‘Footsteps’ and the writing of biography was changed forever. A daring mix of travel, biographical sleuthing and personal memoir, it broke all the conventions of the genre and remains ons of the most intoxicating, magical works of modern literary exploration ever published.

Sleeping rough, he retraces Robert Louis Stevenson's famous journey through the Cevennes. Caught up in the Parisian riots of the 1960s, he dives back in time to the terrors of Wordsworth and of Mary Wollstonecraft marooned in Revolutionary Paris and then into the strange tortured worlds of Gérard de Nerval. Wandering through Italy, he stalks Shelley and his band of Romantic idealists to Casa Magni on the Gulf of Spezia.

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Review:

‘This exhilarating book, part biography, part autobiography, shows the biographer as sleuth and huntsman, tracking his subjects through space and time.’ Hilary Spurling, Observer

‘Nothing is simple in this intricate, complicated and fascinating book, which is like a set of Russian dolls, biography containing travel-writing containing autobiography containing and so on…Holmes is indeed a biographer and a romantic in every sense.’ Richard Boston, Guardian

From the Back Cover:

Sleeping rough, Richard Holmes retraces Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous journey through the Cevennes. Caught up in the Parisian riots of the 1960s, he dives back in time to the terrors of Wordsworth and of Mary Wollstonecraft marooned in Revolutionary Paris and then into the strange tortured worlds of Gérard de Nerval. Wandering through Italy, he stalks Shelley and his band of Romantic idealists to Casa Magni on the Gulf of Spezia.

“This exhilarating book, part biography, part autobiography, shows the biographer as sleuth and huntsman, tracking his subjects through space and time.”
HILARY SPURLING, OBSERVER

“Nothing is simple in this intricate, complicated and fascinating book, which is like a set of Russian dolls, biography containing travel-writing containing autobiography containing … and so on … Holmes is indeed a biographer and a romantic in every sense.”
RICHARD BOSTON, GUARDIAN

“His purpose is to locate “the personal life that is hidden in, and below, the printed page” and then to understand that life by an act of identification … and there is nothing more eloquent in this book than Holmes’s account of the biographer’s obsession with the past – that feeling of being “haunted”.
PETER ACKROYD, SUNDAY TIMES

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