Francis King

A Gift For Unhappiness

John Osborne

By

Chatto & Windus 495pp £20 order from our bookshop

In taking on the task of writing this authorised biography John Heilpern was at both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, enjoying the cooperation of Helen Dawson, the talented journalist who became the last of John Osborne’s five wives, he had access to notebooks and private letters. On the other hand, he had to be candid about his subject’s frequently bizarre and brutal behaviour, without forfeiting the reader’s interest and sympathy. That he succeeds in that task is greatly to his credit.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,