This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer

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From the award-winning author of The Age of Wonder and Falling Upwards, here is a luminous meditation on the art of biography that fuses the author’s own experiences with a history of the genre and explores the fascinating and surprising relationship between fact and fiction. 

  In a book that ranges widely over art, science, and poetry, Richard Holmes confesses to a lifetime’s obsession with his Romantic subjects. It has become for him a pursuit, or pilgrimage of the heart, that has taken him across three centuries, through much of Europe, and into the lively company of many earlier biographers. Central to this quest is a powerful and tender evocation of the lives of women both scientific and literary, some well-known and some almost lost to history: Margaret Cavendish, Mary Somerville, Germaine de Staël, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the Dutch intellectual Zélide. Holmes also investigates the myths that have overshadowed the lives of some favorite Romantic figures: the love-stunned John Keats, the waterlogged Percy Bysshe Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked genius Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the mad visionary bard William Blake. 

  The diversity of Holmes’s material is a testimony to his empathy, erudition, and inquiring spirit—and, sometimes, to his mischievous streak. The Long Pursuit gives us a unique insider’s account of a biographer at work: traveling, teaching, researching, fantasizing, forgetting, and even ballooning. From this great chronicler of the Romantics now comes a chronicle of himself and his intellectual passions; it contains his most personal and most seductive writing.
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About the author

RICHARD HOLMES is the author of The Age of Wonder, which won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and the National Book Critics Circle Award, was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, and was one of The New York Times Book Review’s Best Books of the Year in 2009. His other books include Falling Upwards, Footsteps, Sidetracks, Shelley: The Pursuit (winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize), Coleridge: Early Visions (winner of the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year Award), Coleridge: Darker Reflections (an NBCC finalist), and Dr. Johnson & Mr. Savage (winner of the James Tait Blake Prize). Holmes is an Honorary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and was awarded the OBE in 1992. He lives in Great Britain.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Pantheon
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Published on
Mar 7, 2017
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781101871768
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Biography & Autobiography / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Richard Zacks
From Richard Zacks, bestselling author of Island of Vice and The Pirate Hunter, a rich and lively account of how Mark Twain’s late-life adventures abroad helped him recover from financial disaster and family tragedy—and revived his world-class sense of humor

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     Throughout his quest, Twain was aided by cutthroat Standard Oil tycoon H.H. Rogers, with whom he had struck a deep friendship, and he was hindered by his own lawyer (and future secretary of state) Bainbridge Colby, whom he deemed “head idiot of this century.”
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From the Hardcover edition.
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