Samuel Pepys : The Unequalled Self

Author(s): Claire Tomalin


Samuel Pepys achieved fame as a naval administrator, a friend and colleague of the powerful and learned, a figure of substance. But for nearly ten years he kept a private diary in which he recorded, with unparalleled openness and sensitivity to the turbulent world around him, exactly what it was like to be a young man in Restoration London. This diary lies at the heart of Claire Tomalin's biography. Yet the use she makes of it - and of other hitherto unexamined material - is startlingly fresh and original. Within and beyond the narrative of Pepys's extraordinary career, she explores his inner life - his relations with women, his fears and ambitions, his political shifts, his agonies and his delights.


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Winner of Whitbread Prize (Biography) 2002 and Whitbread Book Awards: Biography Category 2002 and Samuel Pepys Award 2003 and Whitbread Book Awards: Book of the Year 2002. Shortlisted for BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2003 and Samuel Johnson Prize 2003.

The Pepys we know lived for only nine years and five months. Tomalin gives us the rest of the man, and also a startling new way to read him. Thomas Mallon, "The New Yorker " Tomalin not only brings him back to vibrant life, but makes a powerful case that he s more central, more relevant than we ever imagined . . . She has restored to us the whole Pepys. Charles McGrath, "New York Times Book Review," front cover Brilliantly believable . . . It takes an exceptional biographer to go so confidently beyond the apparent totality of daily experience presented in Pepys s "Diary ." . . Claire Tomalin s life [of Pepys] is a magnificent triumph. Her research has been not just scrupulously thorough but dazzlingly imaginative. Philip Hensher, "Atlantic Monthly " Tomalin s writing is as supple and lively as Pepys s own, and by fleshing out the backdrop to his "Diary "writings, she has created the perfect bookend to his own rollicking self-portrait . . . The best work on Pepys since Robert Louis Stevenson s classic essay, published in 1881. Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times " Our greatest diarist, analyzed by one of our greatest biographers. Tomalin s flawless research and trademark empathy with her subjects should make this portrait of one of the most fascinating characters of 17th-century England the best biography of the autumn. Caroline Gascoigne, "Sunday Times" (U.K.) Immaculately well done. She writes with such beautiful clarity, always empathetic . . . There is about this biography a wisdom, an unforced feeling that the biographer has a sense of the way life is . . . Like all great biographies, "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self "has a hint of the love letter about it. And it is a love that becomes contagious. Craig Brown, "The Mail on Sunday "(U.K.)"

Claire Tomalin has worked in publishing and journalism all her life, becoming literary editor first of the New Statesman and then of the Sunday Times. She is the author of six highly acclaimed biographies and has won the Whitbread First Book Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the NCR Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography. Claire Tomalin lives in Camden Town, London with her husband Michael Frayn.

Part 1 1633-1660: the elected son; a schoolboy's war - Huntingdon and St Paul's; Cambridge and clerking; love and pain; a house in Axe Yard; a diary. Part 2 1660-1669: changing sides; families; work; jealousy; death and plague; war; marriage; the king; the fire; three Janes; the secret scientist; speeches and stories; surprise and disorder. Part 3 1669-1703: after the diary; public and private life; plots; travels for the Stuarts; whirligigs; the Jacobite; a journey to be made.

General Fields

  • : 9780140282344
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : 0.423
  • : July 2003
  • : 198mm X 129mm X 34mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Claire Tomalin
  • : Paperback
  • : New ed
  • : English
  • : 942.066092
  • : very good
  • : 568
  • : 24pp b&w illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index