Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun (Hutchinson, London 1987)
Also published in the USA by Farrar Straus and Giroux. Shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Best Biography prize in 1988.
Published in Norway as Gåten Knut Hamsun (Dreyer, Oslo 1988)
Published in Germany as Knut Hamsun: Leben gegen den Strom (List. München 1990)
Birger Emanuelsen interviewed me for the magazine Minerva in 2009, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Knut Hamsun's birth, and asked why Hamsun has never really caught on with English readers. My answers are here()
Henry Miller: A Life (Hutchinson, London 1991) When I was young I thought Miller was tremendous fun and I still do. I enjoyed the way he didn’t just take things for granted but found out about them for himself. I sometimes used him as guide to find interesting new writers, and it was through him that I first came across the name Knut Hamsun. In 1979 I wrote Miller a fan letter and was delighted to get a very encouraging handwritten reply.
Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography. This biography got a very mixed reception. Some enjoyed its disrespectful tone, others did not. Jens-Morten Hanssen’s article() is a fair and balanced description of the biography and its reception. One of the book’s critics was Professor Astrid Sæther. I replied to her here().
The Short Sharp Life of T.E.Hulme (London, 2002). I can’t remember how, but in my early twenties I came across Hulme’s Speculations, edited by Herbert Read. Some of the ideas in ‘Cinders’ were like revelations to me. I was very moved by Hulme’s fate and curious about his personality. I wrote this as a labour of love and enjoyed the work very much. It was widely reviewed but I never received a single royalty cheque for it.
Jeremy Noel-Todd in The Observer
Ian Sansom in The Guardian
Al Alvarez in The New York Review of Books
Dan Jacobsen in the New Statesman
Alan Judd in the Spectator
John Carey in The Sunday Times Magazine: ‘an unforgettable tribute to an unforgettable man.’