A Biographer’s Search for the Soul

Ann Wroe author


Publisher:Vintage Publishing

Published:31st Aug '23


Available for immediate dispatch.

Lifescapes cover

The acclaimed biographer and obituarist for The Economist reflects on a career spent pursuing life and capturing it on the page.

It is soul that I go looking for. Or, to put it another way, real life.

'She's a genius, I believe' HILARY MANTEL
'A masterful celebration' JOHN BANVILLE
'A rare and beautiful book' KAPKA KASSABOVA

'What is life?' asked the poet Shelley, and could not come up with an answer. Scientists, too, for all their understanding of how life manifests, thrives and evolves, have still not plumbed that fundamental question. Yet biographers and obituarists continue to corral lives in a few columns, or a few hundred pages, aware all the time how fleeting and elusive their subject is.

In this dazzlingly original blend of memoir, biography, observation and poetry, Ann Wroe reflects on the art and impossibility of capturing life on the page. Through her experiences and those of others, through people she has known, studied or merely glimpsed in windows, she movingly explores what makes a life and how that life lingers after.

Animated by Wroe's rare imagination, eye for the telling detail, and the wit, beauty and clarity of her writing, Lifescapes is a luminous, deeply personal answer to Shelley's question.

She's a genius, I believe, because she lights up every subject she touches -- HILARY MANTEL
Beautifully written, the prose witty, twisting and sensuous, but it is sharp, too * The Times *
What a treat it is to read a writer at the top of her game... Astonishing... Lifescapes is the universe in miniature * Daily Telegraph *
On the back page of the Economist, the recently departed breathe one last time. Every week I read her first and marvel at the alchemy that produces her beautiful words. Now, thanks to Lifescapes, I begin to understand from whence her shining gift has come -- PETER HENNESSY
A rare and beautiful book. Like an aurora borealis or an elusive spherical fish, Ann Wroe's writing performs a merger of substance and form. Reading her, your perception shift to a higher octave. If you want to experience a mystery - how the world's soul moves under the skin of this reality - read this book -- KAPKA KASSABOVA
Ann Wroe is a poet of the particular. Her prose, as tightly woven as a rush basket, frequently breaks into song. Lifescapes is a masterly celebration of the world, and of the peculiar and glorious predicament of its inhabitants -- JOHN BANVILLE
A fervent investigation into personhood... This book is full of valiant attempts to reach the hidden, inmost and yet most expansive meaning of being * Literary Review *
A brave, unfashionable and out of the ordinary book… a delight… Lifescapes encourages us to take a deep breath, contemplate life more keenly and acknowledge the miraculous if – and when – we find it * Observer *
Evocative and beautifully written * Financial Times *
This is biography as empathy and even hyper-empathy… Wroe… operates like a kind of tuning fork… She seems to feel the energy that thrums in people, nature and objects… compelling * Times Literary Supplement *

Although the book is part memoir, part essay on the art of biography, it is really about the breath of life itself. Wroe’s writing is intense and visionary, at times almost ecstatic. Reader, dive in…
Her voice, her writing, already add such consonance, such alert and graceful rapture, to the music of the world’

* Spectator *

ISBN: 9781787334458

Dimensions: 222mm x 144mm x 24mm

Weight: 346g

224 pages