This collection of intimate portraits of eleven famous men and women originally published by Eyre Methuen, Ltd. in 1980, is based on Rowse's own friendship with his subjects, all of whom have made significant contributions to modern literature or politics. They include Sir Winston Churchill, Lady Astor, Agatha Christie, Samuel Eliot Morison, G.M. Trevelyan, Andre Maurois, Edmund Wilson, W.H. Auden, Admiral Nimitz, T.S. Eliot, and Willa Cather.
A.L. Rowse is well known as an authority on the Elizabethan Age and as the author of the Churchill family history. He is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy, and lives in Cornwall, England.