Before I left the valley I thought everywhere was like this. Then I went away for 40 years and when I came back I realized that nowhere was like this. ‘Laurie Lee walked out of his childhood village one summer morning to travel the world, but he was always drawn back to his beloved Slad Valley, eventually returning to make it his home. In this portrait of his Cotswold home, Laurie Lee guides us through its landscapes, and shares memories of his village youth – from his favourite pub, The Woolpack, to winter skating on the pond, the church through the seasons, local legends, learning the violin and playing jazz records in the privy on a wind-up gramophone.

A moving, never-before-published portrait of the landscape that shaped the life of Laurie Lee, the beloved author of Cider With … More

A personal and global history in objects, Gillian Tindall traces the memories and meanings that accrue to the artefacts of human lives through time. Before ordinary doctors had access to accurate pocket watches, they timed a patient’s pulse with a 30-second sandglass. A ‘pulse glass’ was a functional piece of medical equipment, designed to measure a life, never intended to survive for centuries. But Gillian Tindall inherited her great-great-grandfather’s pulse glass, which holds the heartbeats of many by-gone generations and offers a portal to nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish life, to her grandmother’s marriage and the assorted fates of the next generation.

Most of the objects that surround us, no matter how important in their time, will eventually be lost and forgotten. … More

As a musician, an actor, a muse, an icon, the breadth of Debbie Harry’s impact on our culture has been matched by her almost Sphinx-like reticence about her inner life. Through it all – while being acclaimed as one of the most beautiful women in the world, prized by a galaxy of leading photographers and fashion designers, beloved by legions of fans for her relentless, high-octane performances, selling 50 million albums or being painted by Andy Warhol – Debbie Harry has infused her perennial Blondie persona with a heady mix of raw sexuality and sophisticated punk cool. In Face It, Debbie Harry invites us into the complexity of who she is and how her life and career have played out over the last seven decades.

Upending the standard music memoir, with a cutting-edge style keeping with the distinctive qualities of her multi-disciplined artistry, Face It … More

Peopled by a cast of gay icons such as Dusty Springfield, Billie Jean King, Dirk Bogarde and Alan Turing, and featuring key moments such as Stonewall, Gay Pride and Section 28, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, is the first graphic history documenting lesbian life from 1950 to the present. It is a stunning, personal, graphic memoir and a milestone itself in LGBTQI+ history. In 1950, when Kate was born, male homosexuality carried a custodial sentence. But female homosexuality had never been an offence in the UK, effectively rendering lesbians even more invisible than they already were often to themselves. Growing up in Yorkshire, the young Kate had to find role models wherever she could, in real life, books, film and TV.

Sensible Footwear is a fascinating history of how post-war Britain transformed from a country hostile towards `queer’ lives to the … More

July 15, 1942, Wednesday. Remember this day; remember it well. You will tell generations to come. Since 8 o’clock today we have been shut away in the ghetto. I live here now. The world is separated from me and I’m separated from the world. Renia is a young girl who dreams of becoming a poet. But Renia is Jewish, she lives in Poland and the year is 1939. When Russia and Germany invade her country, Renia’s world shatters. Separated from her mother, her life takes on a new urgency as she flees Przemysl to escape night bombing raids, observes the disappearances of other Jewish families and, finally, witnesses the creation of the ghetto.

But alongside the terror of war, there is also great beauty, as she begins to find her voice as a … More

From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year. Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland, with no design yet heeding signs, including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat.

In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s … More

“Everyone has their price. It’s just not always monetary. Mine is though. 20 quid.” Single mum. `Stain on society’. Caught in a poverty trap. It’s a luxury to afford morals and if you’re Cash Carraway, you do what you can to survive. Skint Estate is the hard-hitting, blunt, dignified and brutally revealing debut memoir about impoverishment, loneliness and violence in austerity Britain – set against a grim landscape of sink estates, police cells, refuges and peepshows – skilfully woven into a manifesto for change. Alone, pregnant and living in a women’s refuge, Cash Carraway couldn’t vote in the 2010 general election that ushered austerity into Britain. Her voice had been silenced. Years later, she watched Grenfell burn from a women’s refuge around the corner. What had changed? The vulnerable were still at the bottom of the heap, unheard.

Without a stable home, without a steady income, without family support – how do you survive? In Skint Estate, Cash … More

It doesn’t take much familiarity with the news to see that the world has become a more hate-filled place. In Others, a group of writers explore the power of words to help us to see the world as others see it, and to reveal some of the strangeness of our own selves. Through stories, poems, memoirs and essays, we look at otherness in a variety of its forms, from the dividing lines of politics and the anonymising forces of city life, through the disputed identities of disability, gender and neurodiversity, to the catastrophic imbalances of power that stands in the way of social equality.

Whether the theme is a casual act of racism or an everyday interaction with someone whose experience seems impossible to … More

Happy Birthday to the fantastic Salena Godden!! Springfield Road is a journey into childhood in the late 1970s, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish n chips in newspaper, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers. Set in the dawn of Thatcher’s Britain, it’s a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid with NHS glasses, free school dinners & hand-me- downs, as told by the daughter of an Irish jazz musician and a Jamaican go-go dancer. It’s about discovering that life is unfair, that there are bullies out there, and that parents die; yet it is the very antithesis of a misery memoir.

It’s a vivid, uplifting tale that seeks out the humour, colour and tenderness in the world, and when you read … More