Footsteps - Richard Holmes


By Richard Holmes

  • Publication Date: 2011-04-14
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Book Overview

Richard Holmes’s great work of biographical exploration, published alongside its sister volume ‘Sidetracks’.

In 1985, Richard Holmes published a small book of essays called ‘Footsteps’ and the writing of biography was changed forever. A daring mix of travel, biographical sleuthing and personal memoir, it broke all the conventions of the genre and remains ons of the most intoxicating, magical works of modern literary exploration ever published.

Sleeping rough, he retraces Robert Louis Stevenson's famous journey through the Cevennes. Caught up in the Parisian riots of the 1960s, he dives back in time to the terrors of Wordsworth and of Mary Wollstonecraft marooned in Revolutionary Paris and then into the strange tortured worlds of Gérard de Nerval. Wandering through Italy, he stalks Shelley and his band of Romantic idealists to Casa Magni on the Gulf of Spezia.

Note that it has not been possible to include the same picture content that appeared in the original print version.


This exhilarating book, part biography, part autobiography, shows the biographer as sleuth and huntsman, tracking his subjects through space and time.' HILARY SPURLING, Observer

'Nothing is simple in this intricate, complicated and fascinating book, which is like a set of Russian dolls, biography containing travel-writing containing autobiography containing and so on… Holmes is indeed a biographer and a romantic in every sense.' RICHARD BOSTON, Guardian

About the author

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.

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