Claire Tomalin is the author of several acclaimed biographies: The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft; Shelley and His World; Katharine Mansfield: A Secret Life; The Invisible Woman: The Story of Ellen Ternan and Charles Dickens; Mrs. Jordan's Profession; and Jane Austen. Educated at Cambridge University, she served as literary editor of the New Statesman and The Sunday Times. She lives in London with her husband, the playwright and novelist Michael Frayn.
Tomalin, biographer of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, goes beyond Pepys's diary years to examine his entire life. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is the most famous diarist in English letters. From 1660 to 1669, he penned an unforgettable day-by-day description of Restoration London, with its disasters (the Great Plague of 1665, the Great Fire of 1666), its tumultuous politics and its amazing cultural fervor. Pepys's diary also describes his eager womanizing, as he makes passes, often clumsily, at barmaids and shop girls and the wives of his associates. It is Pepys's intermingling of the public and the private that makes his diary so remarkable. Tomalin (Jane Austin: A Life, etc.) really knows her man, following him closely through some of the great events of English history. As a young government clerk, Pepys allied himself with his cousin Edward Montagu, who turned away from Cromwell to help Charles II become king in 1660, and the Restoration made Pepys's career. Highly organized, intelligent and a savvy political infighter, as Tomalin portrays him, he became a leading navy official and helped build the British navy into a world power. Tomalin also brings us inside Pepys's personal life: his tempestuous marriage, his romantic liaisons, his private, quite negative feelings about King Charles II. Tomalin writes brilliant chapters on all aspects of Pepys's life, relying not only on the diary but also on impressive scholarship. Tomalin clearly admires her subject, whose energy she constantly praises. For those who have already enjoyed the diary, Tomalin's learned and entertaining work admirably fills in the gaps. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 14) Forecast: Tomalin has a fine reputation as a literary biographer, and this will be widely and well reviewed. It's hard to imagine, though, very large demand being generated beyond devoted literary and English-historical readers. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"A magnificent triumph. . . . Absolutely stunning." --The Atlantic Monthly
"Invaluable. . . . [Tomalin] not only brings [Pepys] back to vibrant life, but makes a powerful case that he's more central, more 'relevant, ' than we ever imagined." --The New York Times Book Review
"A magisterial book [written] with an elegance and concision that few historians could match. . . . You have to love Samuel Pepys. He is us." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Exceptional. . . . Nuanced, moving. . . . A book teeming, like the diary, with clarity, momentum and great pleasure." --Chicago Tribune
"Exemplary. . . . The perfect bookend to [Pepys's] own rollicking self-portrait." --The New York Times
"Fine and engrossing. . . . Tomalin possesses a particularly graceful and pleasing diction, a proper sense of measure, and a piquant willingness to express her own views." --The Washington Post Book World
"Excellent. . . . Remarkable and sympathetic. . . . One is not likely to think of Pepys in the same way again." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A superb biography by a writer at the height of her powers." --Whitbread Award Judges' Citation