The eagerly-awaited authorised biography of Kingsley Amis.
In this authorised biography, Zachary Leader argues that Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation, but a dominant figure in post-war British writing, as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.
Drawing not only on interviews with a range of Amis's friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of them never before consulted, but also on hundreds of previously unpublished letters, Leader's biography will for the first time give a full picture of Amis's childhood, school days, life as a teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover.
He explores Amis's fears and phobias, and the role that drink played in his life. And of course he pays due attention to Amis's work. As the editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, hailed in The Sunday Telegraph as 'one of the last major monuments to the epistolary art', Leader is more than qualified to be his authorised biographer. His book will surprise, entertain and illuminate.
“Leader has surpassed himself... he gives us not only the man, but also his milieu; he gives us not only the compelling virtues but also the staggering flaws. This is the best biography I have read for ages: deeply researched, crisply written and beautifully judged”
Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph
“Very thorough and very straight-talking. It's also very clear in its aims...He displays the facts of each matter plainly, allowing the reader to deliver their own praise and blame, and counterbalances them with his attention to the work. It's an impressively well-judged response”
Andrew Motion, Guardian
“Marvellous...It has become a fashion to denounce long biographies as telling us more than we need to know, but Leader's is a triumphant vindication of its 900-plus pages. It's a pleasure to read, and the accumulation of detail gives a real sense of a life being led”
Jeremy Lewis, Independent
“This is a book of true stature about a complex talent. Few literary biographies can match it for depth and intimacy”
John Carey, Sunday Times
“Marvellous...I ought to say that this book is 200 pages too long, but as I enjoyed almost every word of it, I can't”
Ferdinand Mount, Spectator
“In Zachary Leader, who has edited the letters, he has an omniscient biographer, who relentlessly truffles out parallels with Amis's life in every novel”
Valerie Grove, The Times
“Elegantly organised, lovingly detailed, and - how could it not be? - eruptively funny, Zachary Leader's book is hard to put down”
Christopher Bray, New Statesman
“Leader edited Amis's Letters, and this biography is in its way superb. Well-written, balanced... it makes sensible connections between the novels and the life”
Christopher Hudson, Evening Standard
“Unsurprisingly in a biography of this size, he really has left no stone unturned”
Lesley McDowell, Scotsman
“Leader is authoritative, erudite, steeped in his sources and balanced in his judgements”
Scotland on Sunday
“Mr Leader's style and approach are unfussy and effective... Exhaustively researched, it is likely to be definitive”
“A portrait of great complexity that is both an exhilarating and a melancholy read”
Carlo Gebler, Irish Times