Francis King

A Gift For Unhappiness

John Osborne


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.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,