Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell : Dancing to the Music of Time

3.96 (28 ratings by Goodreads)
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BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2017 in The Sunday Times, Spectator, Mail on Sunday, Observer andFinancial Times

'A landmark biography' The Times, Books of the Year

'One of our generation's greatest biographers' London Review of Books

'Witty, spirited, richly crowded with incident and character - a joy to read' Prospect

The long-awaited portrait of a literary master from one of our generation's greatest biographers, author of the definitive and acclaimed Matisse: The Life

Anthony Powell: the literary genius who gave us A Dance to the Music of Time, an undisputed classic of English literature. Spanning twelve spectacular volumes and written over twenty-five years, his comic masterpiece teems with idiosyncratic characters, capturing twentieth century Britain through war and peace.

Drawing on Powell's letters and journals, and the memories of those who knew him, Hilary Spurling explores his life. Investigating the friends, relations, lovers, acquaintances, fools and geniuses who surrounded him, she reveals the comical and tragic events that inspired one of the greatest fictions of the age.


Discover Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series, available in paperback and e-book from Arrow.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 45mm | 845g
  • Hamish Hamilton Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241143837
  • 9780241143834
  • 24,547

Review quote

[An] excellent and vivid biography... exemplary and deliciously readable * The Guardian * One of our generation's greatest biographers * London Review Bookshop * Meticulous... Where Spurling excels is in her punchy analyses of his novels and her understanding of the writer's life * The Financial Times * Spurling has triumphed...A compelling portrait of a lost Englishman * The Observer * This is a fine biography by a writer who knew Powell well, and who understands how writers think * The Spectator * Witty, spirited, richly crowded with incident and character, and a joy to read * Prospect * An accomplished biography of a great writer * Tatler * Spurling has brought him to humane and generous life * The Daily Telegraph * A sharp, graceful writer who has immersed herself in the territory... wonderfully vivid * The Mail on Sunday * An accomplished biographer... her pen portraits are deft and vivid... brisk and bold in her evaluation of a character or retelling of an incident. Her comments on Powell's writing are always illuminating * The New Statesman * Anyone feeling gloomy in their early 50s, worried they've been leading rather a futile life for half a century, should read this biography * Daily Mail * [A] superb biography... beautifully written, meticulously tracked. Hilary Spurling shows a subtle understanding of her subject and his work. She demonstrates an almost uncanny ability to portray the huge cast of characters that floods in colourful profusion across the stage. Her identification of the originals of the characters in A Dance is masterly * The Oldie * An often surprising and always brilliant picture of English upper-middle-class intellectual life in the mid-20th century: drunkards, journalists, musicians, aristocrats, hangers-on and the odd genius. I couldn't put it down * Claire Tomalin * An exciting story, from its unhappy beginnings to its triumphant ending. You can't read this without your fingers itching to get at his Dance novels, whether for the first or the 15th time * Antonia Fraser * Written with an elegance that does full credit to its subject * Michael Howard * Meticulous biography. Spurling excels "in her punchy analyses of his novels and her understanding of the writer's life * Financial Times Books of the Year * Worth the wait; intimate and judicious, it doubles as an alternative history of a lost kind of Englishness * The Guardian * So readable... wonderfully vivid portraits of Powell's famous acquaintances * The Mail on Sunday Books of the Year * Richly and movingly enjoyable... a tapestry of Powell's contemporaries * The Times * Publisher's description. A biography of the comic writer Anthony Powell, author of the million-word masterpiece A Dance to the Music of Time, from renowned British biographer Hilary Spurling. An insightful and surprising look into what drove the writer widely regarded as the English Proust. * Penguin *
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About Hilary Spurling

Hilary Spurling is the author of numerous biographies, including Ivy When Young: The Early Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1884-1919; Paul Scott: A Life; a two-volume biography of Matisse, The Unknown Matisse and Matisse the Master (also published in the abridged single-volume Matisse: The Life); and Burying the Bones. She won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize for Ivy When Young, the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for Matisse the Master, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Burying the Bones. She grew up in Bristol and studied at the University of Oxford. From 1964 to 1970 she was Theatre Critic and Literary Editor of the Spectator, and since then she has been a regular book reviewer for the Observer and the Daily Telegraph. In 2016 she won the Biographers' Club Lifetime Achievement Award.


Discover Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series, available in paperback and e-book from Arrow.
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Rating details

28 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 25% (7)
4 54% (15)
3 18% (5)
2 0% (0)
1 4% (1)
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