Otis Redding remains a living presence in the canon of American popular music on the strength of such classic hits… As a singer, songwriter, bandleader, and arranger, Redding was the chief architect of the distinctly southern, gospel-inflected style of rhythm & blues associated with Stax Records in Memphis…

Yet, while Redding’s music has long served as the gold standard of 1960s soul, an aura of myth and mystery … More

Born OTD in 1883, English soldier, lawyer & politician, Clement Attlee. The government he led built the post-war consensus, based upon the assumption that full employment would be maintained by Keynesian policies and that a greatly enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations that had been outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Within this context, his government undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, as well as the creation of the National Health Service.

Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain’s radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire … More

“I am a socialist, & have been fighting and will fight for an absolute reconstruction of society for the benefit of all. I am proud of my conduct. I have squared my conduct with my intellect, and if everyone had done so this war would not have taken place. I act square and clean for my principles. I have nothing to retract. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Your class position is against my class position. There are two classes of morality. There is the working class morality and there is the capitalist class morality…”

There is this antagonism as there is the antagonism between Germany and Britain. A victory for Germany is a defeat … More

Born OTD in 1881, Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, playwright, and co-founding member of the Cubist movement, Pablo Picasso. Julie Birmant and Clement Oubrerie’s award-winning graphic biography of Pablo Picasso captures the prolific and eventful life of one of the world’s best-loved artists.

Pablo takes in Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Monmartre, his turbulent relationship with Fernande, and the development of … More

The wren is a paradox of a bird. On the one hand wrens are ubiquitous. They are Britain’s most common bird, with 8.5 million breeding pairs & have by far the loudest song in proportion to their size. They also thrive up & down Britain and Ireland: from the smallest city garden to remote offshore islands, blustery moors to chilly mountains. Yet many people, particularly a younger generation, are not sure if they have ever seen a wren. Perhaps because the wren is so tiny, weighing just as much as two A4 sheets of paper, & so busy, always on the move, more mouse than bird.

However if we cast our eyes back to recent history wrens were a mainstay of literary, cultural and popular history. … More

Born OTD in 1913, Hungarian war photographer & photojournalist, Robert Capa. ‘Robert Capa: A Graphic Biography’ is a brilliant portrayal of the career of the great war photographer who, at the time of his death in 1954, had only one wish: to be an unemployed war photographer. ‘It is not always easy’ he said, ‘to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the suffering.

Born in 1913 to a Jewish family in Budapest, Endre Friedmann left home at 18 for Germany where he studied … More

Based upon work & materials compiled for the acclaimed & now much sought after 2007 Cramps biography. A Short History of Rock’n’Roll Psychosis, Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps goes far beyond being a revised & updated edition: Completely overhauled, rewritten & vastly expanded, it now represents the definitive work on the group.

In addition to unseen interview material from Ivy, Lux and other former band members, Journey To The Centre Of The … More

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to my Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: it’s part guidebook, part memoir, part poetry – and pure delight. Here in short essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons about compassion and fortitude.

Whether she is recalling lost friends, extolling honesty or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice, Maya … More

Unrestrained by convention, lion-hearted and free, Eleanor Marx (1855-98) was an exceptional woman. She pioneered the theatre of Henrik Ibsen. She was the first woman to lead the British dock workers’ and gas workers’ trades unions. For years she worked tirelessly for her father, Karl Marx, as personal secretary and researcher. Later she edited many of his key political works, and laid the foundations for his biography.

But foremost among her achievements was her pioneering feminism. For her, sexual equality was a necessary precondition for a just … More

Crick’s George Orwell is important because this English political scientist is the first writer to have been given unrestricted access to Orwell’s papers as well as unlimited rights of quotation. The result is the best-written and most comprehensive Orwell biography to date — which means it suffers only by comparison with Orwell’s own work.

Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were the first books to capture the mass audience he coveted, but it was the … More