Synopses & Reviews
In The Fatal Englishman
, his first work of nonfiction, Sebastian Faulks explores the lives of three remarkable men. Each had the seeds of greatness; each was a beacon to his generation and left something of value behind; yet each one died tragically young.
Christopher Wood, only twenty-nine when he killed himself, was a painter who lived most of his short life in the beau monde of 1920s Paris, where his charm, good looks, and the dissolute life that followed them sometimes frustrated his ambition and achievement as an artist.
Richard Hillary was a WWII fighter pilot who wrote a classic account of his experiences, The Last Enemy, but died in a mysterious training accident while defying doctor's orders to stay grounded after horrific burn injuries; he was twenty-three.
Jeremy Wolfenden, hailed by his contemporaries as the brightest Englishman of his generation, rejected the call of academia to become a hack journalist in Cold War Moscow. A spy, alcoholic, and open homosexual at a time when such activity was still illegal, he died at the age of thirty-one, a victim of his own recklessness and of the peculiar pressures of his time.
Through the lives of these doomed young men, Faulks paints an oblique
portrait of English society as it changed in the twentieth century, from the Victorian era to the modern world.
"Compelling and stunningly written." The Times (London)
"Faulks is a prodigiously talented writer." The New York Times
"You may not have heard of the subjects of these three essays, but please do not let that hinder you....[Faulks's] spare narrative hides a commitment to his subjects which pulls you in and leaves you gasping for these lost lives." Mail on Sunday
Bestselling novelist Sebastian Faulks' first work of nonfiction is a biography of three remarkable men who possessed the seeds of greatness, but whose lives were cut short.
Christopher Wood, twenty-nine when he killed himself, was known throughout the beau monde of 1920s Paris for his good looks, charm, and ambition to achieve greatness as a painter. Richard Hillary, a WWII fighter pilot, died in a mysterious training accident at the age of twenty-three. And Jeremy Wolfenden, hailed as the brightest Englishman of his generation, was a spy, an alcoholic, and an open homosexual in Cold War Moscow; he died at the age of thirty-one, a victim of his own recklessness. Through the lives of these doomed young men, Faulks paints an oblique portrait of English society as it changed from the Victorian era to the modern world.
About the Author
Sebastian Faulks is the author of seven previous novels, including Birdsong (1993), The Girl at the Lion d'Or (1989), Charlotte Gray (1998), On Green Dolphin Street (2001) and Human Traces (2005). He is also the author of a biographical study, The Fatal Englishman (1996).
Table of Contents
Christopher Wood -- Richard Hillary -- Jeremy Wolfenden.