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About the book
  • Published: 1 December 2011
  • ISBN: 9781845951849
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 752
  • RRP: $49.99

Augustus John

The New Biography

Formats & editions

The revised and updated biography of the British painter, drawing on the mass of new material which has come to light since Holroyd's first edition in 1974, revealing the complete story of John and his circle, from one of the greatest modern biographers.

Born in Tenby in 1878, Augustus John studied at the Slade with his sister Gwen, and in Paris. He lived a passionate and unruly life and died in 1961. The success of Holroyd's 1st edition of AUGUSTUS JOHN encouraged the John family to auction his papers which, with MH's assistance, were bought in 1988 by the National Library of Wales. The collection includes letters from Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Shaw, Oskar Kokoschka, the Sitwells and Sean O'Casey, plus many others, and reveals John to be a pivotal cultural figure in the first quarter of this century. Using this material, new correspondence and drawing on numerous new studies of Gwen John, Epstein and others, Michael Holroyd can now tell the full and true stories behind the life of this archetypal bohedemian and artist-reprobate. Proto-feminist sub-plots involving Gwen, Ida and Dorelia John (his wife) also bring the book thoroughly up to date for the 1990s reader.

  • Pub date: 1 December 2011
  • ISBN: 9781845951849
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 752
  • RRP: $49.99

About the Author

Michael Holroyd

Besides the Lives of Augustus John, Bernard Shaw and Lytton Strachey (which was filmed as Carrington), Michael Holroyd has written two volumes of memoirs, Basil Street Blues and Mosaic. His most recent book, A Strange Eventful History, winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Biography, was a biography of theatre greats Ellen Terry and Henry Irving and their children. He has been president of the Royal Society of Literature and is the first non-fiction writer to have been awarded the British Literature Prize. He lives in London and Somerset with his wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble.

Also by Michael Holroyd

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Praise for Augustus John

“Superb biography. . . . Holroyd has it all”

Robert Hughes, Time

“Vastly informative and hugely entertaining”


“An entertaining, essentially comic story... Holroyd tells it with great skill and elegance”

Sunday Telegraph

“Here is one of the most entertaining lives ever written... Holroyd depicts his subjects with great sympathy and understanding... Very funny... thought-provoking”

Philip Hensher, Mail on Sunday

“Both a celebration and a tragedy. The celebration of a man of enormous vitality, intermittent zest and remarkable magnetism, and of the most naturally gifted artist that the English-speaking world has produced in the last hundred years; and the tragedy of a man who never came to terms with himself... A wonderfully engrossing, entertaining and even moving book”

Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

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