John Aubrey: My Own Life

Scurr, Ruth

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

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(103 ratings)

Synopsis: Shortlisted for the COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD

No.1: Telegraph Best Books for Christmas
'Light, ingenious, inspiring, a book to reread and cherish' Hilary Mantel

'A delight...the book I would take with me to a desert island' David Aaronovitch
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)

"Extraordinary" (Mary Beard Spectator)

"An audacious and successful attempt to write a biography in the subject?s own words. Scurr has ingeniously edited Aubrey?s swift, vivid prose into a coherent account of the life lived by one of the most interesting (and interested ? in everything) writers of our most exciting century, the seventeenth. Irresistible" (Philip Pullman Guardian)

"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)

"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)

"In an act of daring ventriloquism, Scurr here tells Aubrey?s life story in his own words, stitched together from his scattered manuscripts. The result is a triumph of historical imagination, as vivid and endearing as its subject?s own" (Kathryn Hughes Guardian)

"Scurr confidently walks an imaginative life between historical fact and fiction. Her Aubrey ? curious yet self-effacing- is a very English hero" (Sunday Times)

"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)

"An extraordinarily original piece of biography... gripping, moving, and beautifully rendered" (Neel Mukherjee New Statesman)

"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)

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

"In a year that has seen the publication of Ruth Scurr's John Aubrey: My Own Life, it's hard not to wonder...why everyone else bothers. Oh, you think, it's because they started writing their books when the earth was still flat... Scurr's book alters our perception of the territory. You would be sceptical if you weren't awestruck: Aubrey's voice is exceptional, and Scurr's fragmentary form is perfectly suited to her subject's magpie preoccupations." (Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year)

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

"This year saw one of the most audacious biographies I can remember reading: Ruth Scurr's John Aubrey: My Own Life... What we are presented with is a wonderful artificial composite: a fascinating patchwork made up of extracts from Aubrey's notebooks, journals and letters, chronologically rearranged with consummate editorial and novelistic artfulness by Scurr. The result is haunting, memorable and, in the field of non-fiction, unprecedented." (William Boyd TLS, Books of the Year)

"Scurr wrote the biography Aubrey didn't write - Aubrey's own - in a biographical form that is unique, new and gripping" (AS Byatt TLS, Books of the Year)

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Title: John Aubrey: My Own Life
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
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