In this classic work, the author of 'Footsteps' collects the biographical stories that have captured his fancy in the course of researching his books on the romantic poets, creating a captivating mixture of biography and memoir.
`Sidetracks' is a sister book to 'Footsteps', conjured up from decades of 'wanderings from the straight and narrow' of his major biographies of Shelley and Coleridge. As Holmes himself says, 'to be sidetracked is, after all, to be led astray by a path or an idea, a scent or a tune, and maybe lost forever.'
The centerpiece of the book is the poignant, inspiring story of Mary Woolstonecraft, the great feminist crusader and philosopher and her husband, William Godwin. But 'Sidetracks' winds through an extraordinary and eclectic assortment of Romantic and Gothic writers and personalities, all made hypnotically alive through Holmes's transforming touch. We meet Chatterton and Gautier, Pierrot and Voltaire, Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, James Boswell and Zelide, MR James and some very unpleasant gothic apparitions.
'Sidetracks' is a renewed examination of the strange and sometimes shadowy pathways of biography.
Richard Holmes is Professor of Biographical Studies at the University of East Anglia, and editor of the Harper Perennial series Classic Biographies launched in 2004. His is a Fellow of the British Academy, has honorary doctorates from UEA and the Tavistock Institute, and was awarded an OBE in 1992. His first book, Shelley: The Pursuit, won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1974. Coleridge: Early Visions won the 1989 Whitbread Book of the Year, and Dr Johnson & Mr Savage won the James Tait Black Prize. Coleridge: Darker Reflections, won the Duff Cooper Prize and the Heinemann Award. He has published two studies of European biography, Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer in 1985, and Sidetracks: Explorations of a Romantic Biographer in 2000.