Tuesday, November 2, 2010


As long as I can remember I have enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies. There's nothing like engaging with another person's life to throw you into deeper places about your own. The more honest the telling of the story, the more insights you gain. It's sometimes said that preachers should especially profit from reading biographies because they need to be exposed to the full gamut of human personalities, recognizing how gospel has to be expressed for all.

After the last three (very) hectic weeks we have landed in clover. We are staying in a bijou cottage (dating from the seventeenth century) in Wallingford, near Oxford. History is round every corner and beam. At last we can at last breathe more easily, unpack our cases and I can set up my computer for a longer stay and some major writing. One of our first jobs was to sign up at the local library and...yes...I got out a biography to read.

I enjoy reading about all sorts of people - famous and unknown. This book attracted my eye because it was commended as "one of the most tender portraints of a parent I have ever read." It is called Godfrey's Ghost - from father to son written by Nicolas Ridley. It tells the story of Arnold Ridley who was a playwright and actor who hit hard times yet became famous in his old age as Private Godfrey in the BBC sit-com Dad's Army.

Actually it's a book that tells you a great deal about its writer, Arnold's son, who frames his memories of his father as a story for his own son. It is incredibly revealing. He tells about his own anger and even jealousy of his father. He remembers very ordinary conversations with his father that he now realizes he is repeating with his son - often concealing deep emotions and concerns. It made me think of the conversations I have with my boys and of the need (at times) to be more real! Have you read any thought-provoking biographies recently.

1 comment:

RHK said...

Fascinating! Thank you for this recommendation.

I recommend any biog from the great Claire Tomalin: Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen.