Hermione Lee, one of our most brilliant biographers, takes on one of our greatest living playwrights, drawing on a wealth of new materials and on many conversations with him.
Tom Stoppard is a towering and beloved literary figure. Known for his dizzying narrative inventiveness and intense attention to language, he deftly deploys art, science, history, politics, and philosophy in works that span a remarkable spectrum of literary genres: theater, radio, film, TV, journalism, and fiction. His most acclaimed creations--Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Real Thing, Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Shakespeare in Love--remain as fresh and moving as when they entranced their first audiences.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard escaped the Nazis with his mother and spent his early years in Singapore and India before arriving in England at age eight. Skipping university, he embarked on a brilliant career, becoming close friends over the years with an astonishing array of writers, actors, directors, musicians, and political figures, from Peter O'Toole, Harold Pinter, and Stephen Spielberg to Mick Jagger and Václav Havel. Having long described himself as a "bounced Czech," Stoppard only learned late in life of his mother's Jewish family and of the relatives he lost to the Holocaust.
Hermione Lee was president of Wolfson College (2008-2017) and is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. Her work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Penelope Fitzgerald (winner of the James Tait Black Prize and one of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2014). She has also written books on Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Roth, and Willa Cather. Lee was awarded the Biographers' Club Prize for Exceptional Contribution to Biography in 2018. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 she was made a CBE, and in 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship.
Benjamin Taylor’s new memoir, Here We Are, appeared from Penguin Books in May 2020 and is scheduled for publication in French and Italian translations in 2021. His previous memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House, received the 2018 Los Angeles Times/Christopher Isherwood Prize and was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice; his Proust: The Search was named a Best Book of 2016 by Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review and by Robert McCrum in The Guardian; and his Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay was named a Best Book of 2012 by Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. He is also the author of two novels, Tales Out of School, winner of the 1996 Harold Ribalow Prize, and The Book of Getting Even, winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award. Taylor’s Bright Medusas: A Life of Willa Cather is scheduled to appear from Viking Press in 2023.