Synopses & Reviews
Irresistibly magnetic on stage, mesmerizing in movies, seven times an Academy Award nominee, Richard Burton rose from humble beginnings in Wales to become Hollywood's most highly paid actor and one of England's most admired Shakespearean performers. His epic romance with Elizabeth Taylor, his legendary drinking and story-telling, his dazzling purchases (enormous diamonds, a jet, homes on several continents), and his enormous talent kept him constantly in the public eye. Yet the man behind the celebrity faand#231;ade carried a surprising burden of insecurity and struggled with the peculiar challenges of a life lived largely in the spotlight.
This volume publishes Burton's extensive personal diaries in their entirety for the first time. His writings encompass many yearsand#8212;from 1939, when he was still a teenager, to 1983, the year before his deathand#8212;and they reveal him in his most private moments, pondering his triumphs and demons, his loves and his heartbreaks. The diary entries appear in their original sequence, with annotations to clarify people, places, books, and events Burton mentions.
From these hand-written pages emerges a multi-dimensional man, no mere flashy celebrity. While Burton touched shoulders with shining lightsand#8212;among them Olivia de Havilland, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, Laurence Olivier, John Huston, Dylan Thomas, and Edward Albeeand#8212;he also played the real-life roles of supportive family man, father, husband, and highly intelligent observer. His diaries offer a rare and fresh perspective on his own life and career, and on the glamorous decades of the mid-twentieth century.
The irresistible, candid diaries of Richard Burton, published in their entirety for the first time
In his personal diaries Richard Burton is a man quite different from the one we familiarly "know" as acclaimed actor, international film star, and jet-set celebrity. From his private, handwritten pages there emerges a different person—a family man, a father, a husband, a man often troubled and always keenly observing. Understood through his own words, day to day and year to year, Burton becomes a fully rounded human being who, with a wealth of talent and a surprising burden of insecurity, confronts the peculiar challenges of a life lived largely in the spotlight.
This volume publishes for the first time the surviving diaries of Richard Burton (born Richard Jenkins, 1925-1984). The diaries were written between 1939 and 1983—throughout his career and the years of his celebrated marriages to Elizabeth Taylor. Diary entries appear in their original sequence, with annotations to clarify the people, places, books, and events he mentions. At times Burton struggles to come to terms with the unfulfilled potential of his life and talent. In other entries, he crows over achievements and hungers for greater challenges. He may be watching his weight, watching his drinking, or watching other men watch his Elizabeth. Always he is articulate, opinionated, and fascinating. His diaries offer a rare and fresh perspective on his own life and career, Elizabeth Taylor's, and the glamorous world of film, theater, and celebrity that they inhabited.
About the Author
Chris Williams is professor of Welsh history, director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, and deputy director of the College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University. He lives in Swansea, Wales.