Sunday, 20 March 2016

Dead Famous: Writers and their Tall Tales by Tracey Turner - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'You've probably heard of a few writers...

  • William Shakespeare and his popular plays.
  • Jane Austen and her love stories
  • Charles Dickens and his big blockbusters

but have you heard that ...

  • William Shakespeare got mixed up in a plot against the Queen?
  • Jane Austen nearly became a Bigg-Wither?
  • Charles Dickens had his clothes ripped off by his fans?

Yes, even when they're dead, writes are still full of surprises - and the ten in this book are more surprising than most. Now you can get the inside story from their secret diaries, flick through Good Day! magazine for some nineteenth-century gossip, and find out all about the writers whose tall tales have changed the world.'

When I was young, I used to be love the publications, Dead Famous and Horrible Histories, both of them being from Scholastic. While I have already reviewed a few books from Horrible Histories, this is the first one from Dead Famous (though, not the first that I've read from the series). So, the basis of a Dead Famous book is, it features a personality who is famous and dead; so yeah, in this case, the phrase actually carries the literal meaning.

This book is on the life of ten great writers, whom we're all likely to have heard of, regardless of whether we've read their books or not. The authors are Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte Sisters, Dickens, Joyce, Hardy and Orwell. I've heard of each one of them, though, read books of only two of these authors (being Shakespeare and Orwell) and the reviews I have given on those books aren't particularly pleasant but my review shall focus on the book rather than the authors.

I really had the way she had it structured, it was chronological, we all love referring to the olde English as Chaucer's English and hence, starts with Chaucer. This book not only focuses on their life, but also on how their ideas emerged, what brought them to writing and the most interesting aspect of the whole book is, she brought out the rough history of the era in which the authors lived, through the book. So, this book will not only provide knowledge on these authors, but also on a lot of history and also, one could easily see how the society changed over the respective periods in which the authors lived.

The only possible negative that I found is something pervasive across this series, be it Horrible Histories or Dead Famous, being the focus on the British Isles (I'd have just said Britain if not for James Joyce), and here, all the ten authors are from the same region; a bit of diversity could've definitely added flavour to the book. Also, it could have been better if there had been one woman author from the modern era, who didn't face much societal stereotype unlike Jane Austen or Bronte sisters, such as Agatha Christie or perhaps, Virginia Woolf.

On the whole, this was an excellent read, I always love these books because it is not too difficult to read and at the same time, it is highly informative, especially this particular book, which had many facets to it, other than being a biography of the individual authors. So, I'd give the book a rating of eight.

Rating - 8/10

Have a nice day,

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