Friday Reads: Our Favourite Biography Reads

To celebrate the release of  Where Beauty Is, this week the Impress team are talking about their favourite biography reads.


Laura’s favourite biography read is Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey by Richard Ayoade

Most people will know the Ayoade for his off-beat comedy and role as Moss in The IT Crowd, as well as the director of the critically well-received Submarine and The Double. Ayoade on Ayoade is a mishmash of faux biography, mock journals and a collection of interviews that Ayoade conducts with himself. The book is simply hilarious and brilliant for anyone who’s slightly snobbish about film.


Richard’s favourite title is The Russian Countess: Escaping Revolutionary Russia by Edith Solluhub

A gripping account of Edith’s struggle to escape the revolution and be reunited with her three sons. Simply an extraordinary account of survival by an extraordinary woman.


Rachel’s favourite biography read is the Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth

This is a very popular choice at the moment because the TV show is currently in its sixth series. However you don’t quite grasp just as true to form the earlier series are until you read the books. The books show in intimate detail the trials of the East End in the mid twentieth-century, for both the old and the new. The Shadow of the Workhouse was one of the most memorable biographies I have read as it captured the life of the older generation as they struggled to deal with the fall out of the workhouses closing and how this affected their perspective on life. I tore through these books and the emotion and character between the pages has made the twentieth century a very interesting period to explore.


Julian’s biography of choice is Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster by David Attenborough

Having been enthralled by David Attenborough’s programmes since my early childhood, Life on Air: Memoirs of a Broadcaster provided me with a chance to learn more about the man whom I think is the best broadcaster and naturalist working today. The book takes a look at Attenborough’s life: from his short stints in the Navy and the publishing industry, to his work as the BBC’s Director of Programmes, and, of course, his documentary-making. Characterised by his customary engaging, intelligent, and thoughtful style, Life on Air is well worth a read for any Attenborough fan.

david attenborough

Biography is Julie’s favourite genre, so she’s sifted through a vast collection of titles to recommend Lifting the Latch: A Life on the Land by Sheila Stewart

Biography/autobiography is my favourite read. People’s lives are fascinating. I have many titles that I want to nominate but I will settle on Lifting the Latch: A Life on the Land – based on the life of Mont Abbott of Enstone, Oxfordshire. Mont worked on the land for nearly 80 years, left the county only a handful of times and saw enormous technological change over his life time. His story is simple, lyrical and profoundly moving. Sheila Stewart brings his voice alive in this reconstruction of his life, written after making audio recordings with him.

lifting the latch]

Want a new biography read from the Impress shelves? Here are a few choices…


After art critic Edward Fisher died, author Giles Ward discovered a lifetime’s collection of notes and transcripts the writer had made in preparation for his biography of controversial twentieth-century British artist Wallace Slade. Fisher’s biography reveals previously undisclosed details, often shocking, of the artist’s personal life, his tangled loves, powerful artworks, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Based on interviews covering a twenty-six year period – from 1963 to the very day of the artist’s death in 1989 – much of this material has never been published and reveals a deeply personal lifelong relationship between Fisher and Slade. Where Beauty Is explores the dangers involved when such a relationship between a critic and his subject becomes too close.


9781907605611A rare glimpse into a forgotten world, we return in this second volume to the memoirs of Countess Edith Sollohub as she shares her fascinating hunting adventures. The reader is regaled with tales of days and nights spent in the snowy woods tracking elk, the sights and smells as she wanders alone into a wolf den, the emotion she feels when coming face-to-face with a majestic bear, torn between letting it live or die. Each story is unique and beautifully recounted in the same entrancing voice we came to know and love in The Russian Countess: Escaping Revolutionary Russia. Poetic, emotive, at times terrifying, Edith draws you in to her wild world of hunting, survival, and the friendships she makes along the way.


Jacket A/W



This powerful biography reflects recent Chilean history from the 1960s to the present through the author’s extraordinary personal experiences. Luis Muñoz recounts his magical, sometimes harsh, childhood, his development as a left-wing activist, his arrest and torture by Pinochet’s military regime and eventual exile to England.



Explore more of our biography titles on our website.




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