Saturday, September 26, 2009

My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith

My hero: Edward Goldsmith

Saturday 26 September 2009 00.01 BST

My uncle Teddy died last month and I will miss him enormously. But his death is more than a personal blow.
Teddy was an early pioneer of the green movement. He launched the Ecologist magazine four decades ago, and his Blueprint for Survival was a defining document. It sold in huge numbers, and inspired countless young people to get involved. He helped set up the first green political party - People, which later became the Green party.
Teddy's slogan was "No deserts in Suffolk", and to capture people's attention, he recruited a camel. He lost his deposit, and in a bizarre twist was chased by a paper-waving official who accused him of animal cruelty, citing the effects on the camel of breathing in car fumes. "That's exactly my point," Teddy declared. "Imagine what it's doing to us!"
Today we're all green. But when Teddy started out, he was virtually alone. His was a decision to stand apart from his peers, risk marginalisation and even ridicule. But he never minded. When he was described by an Italian bishop as "the anti-Christ", he was flattered. When President Suharto of Indonesia labelled him an "enemy of the state", he wore it as a badge of honour. The insults went on and on, and he relished them all.
Part of the reason was that he was hard to pigeonhole. In some ways he was conservative; he had huge respect for traditional societies and he hated change. When I introduced glossy paper to the Ecologist, he thought it was outlandish. But he was also radical and courageous. Whenever the Ecologist was sent legal threats, his reaction was always the same: "Bring it on!"
Near the end of his life, Teddy said; "If in some small way I've helped to slow the runaway juggernaut that we've created, or make people aware of it, that has to be a good thing." He did more than that. He was responsible, perhaps more than anyone else, for waking us up from our collective slumber. He will remain a hero of mine, and if we survive the crisis, he will be revered by many, many others.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre

 Harley Granville Granville-Barker c1910. Photograph: Ernest H Mills

My hero: Harley Granville-Barker

Richard Eyre
Saturday 12 September 2009 00.01 BST

arley Granville-Barker was born - without the hyphen - in 1877. His mother was an entertainer who did bird imitations; his father a dilettante architect/property developer. He had little education. He started performing at the age of 13, and at 14 went to stage school in Margate. He was a playwright by the age of 17, a successful actor by 23 (he originated several of Shaw's protagonists, notably Marchbanks in Candida), and was running the Royal Court Theatre by the time he was 27.

During his three years there - from 1904 to 1907 - he produced more than 37 new plays by 17 authors, encouraged women playwrights and inspired the regional repertory movement. He was the spiritual father of today's Royal Court. He can also claim parenthood of the National Theatre; before running the Royal Court, he co-wrote a blueprint called "A Scheme and Estimates for a National Theatre".
He wrote six plays. The best is The Voysey Inheritance, a complex web of family relationships that is also a virtuoso display of stagecraft.
Granville-Barker retired by the time he was 40. He fell wildly in love with an American millionairess, married her, acquired a hyphen in his surname, moved first to Devon to play the part of a country squire, and then to France to a life of seclusion. Out of his exile emerged his Prefaces to Shakespeare, a practical primer for directors and actors.
He established the premise of modern theatre design by showing that scenery had to be expressive and avoid being decorative or literal. He argued that the text must come first, and that the director, designer and actors must serve it with clarity, lucidity, realism and grace. He created a style of production that is the template for all the best contemporary productions of both old and new plays. He's the father of modern British theatre.






Saturday, September 5, 2009

My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd

My hero: Oscar Wilde

By Michael Holroyd
The Guardian, Saturday 5 September 2009

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish writer, in holidays
Hand-coloured photograph of Wilde circa 1890. Photograph: Roger Viollet/Getty Images
I first came to Oscar Wilde through reading his Life by Hesketh Pearson. This enthralling biography was first published in 1946, and I read it a few years later when I was in my early teens. It was less the tragedy of Wilde's last years that gripped me than the wit and humanity of the man, his generosity of spirit and radical ideas.
I lived most of my early years with my grandparents. The atmosphere was one of eccentric conventionality. Wilde's startling paradoxes ("Work is the curse of the drinking classes") turned upside down the unthinking clichés I used to hear. The man who claimed that "a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at" changed my view of the world. Wilde made me laugh, made me think and revealed to me the seriousness of imaginative humour.
What I came to value was the charming way he arrived at deeply unpopular opinions. He upset much of what I had been encouraged to take for granted. I found myself warming to his revolutionary assault on the dictatorship of a political democracy which depended on that "monstrous and ignorant thing called Public Opinion". He was an extraordinarily brave writer. "One is absolutely sickened," he wrote in The Soul of Man Under Socialism, "not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." I think of that whenever I hear the phrase "brought to justice" glibly used in the media.
Wilde's epigrams and ideas float through all his work – his plays, fictionand essays. "Every great man has his disciples and it is always Judas who writes the biography," he said. And perhaps that was no bad thing while a Damocles sword of respectability hung, as Carlyle complained, over the poor English life-writer. Perhaps, too, Wilde had a more lasting influence on me than I realised. "To arrive at what one really believes," he wrote in The Critic as Artist, "one must speak through lips different from one's own." This is no less true for a biographer than for a playwright.

001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser
006 My hero / Ted Hughes by Michael Morpurgo

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey
021 My hero / Patrick Marber by Craig Rainer
022 My hero / John Keats by Helen Dunmore
023 My hero / Edith Wharton by Lionel Shriver
024 My hero / Elizabeth Barrett Browing by Sara Paretsky
025 My hero / Nelson Mandela by Gordon Brown
026 My hero / Billy Wilder by David Nicholls
027 My hero / Samuel Beckett by Nick Clegg
028 My hero / Margaret Atwood by Caroline Lucas
029 My hero / Colette by Helen Simpson
030 My hero / Cyd Charisse by Tony Parsons

031 My hero / Nicolai Medtner by Philip Pullman
032 My hero / Jean Genet by Ahdaf Soueif
033 My hero / Jeri Johnson by Kate Moss
034 My hero / John Maynard Keynes by Joan Bakewell
036 My hero / Rober Lowell by Jonathan Raban 
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Linch by Paul Murray

042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford 
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
054 My hero / Michael de Montaigne by Liyun Li
055 My hero / Michael Donaghy by Maggie O'Farrell
056 My hero / Richmal Crompton by Louise Crompton
057 My hero / Edward Thomas by David Constantine
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

059 My hero / Sefton by Jilly Cooper

058 My hero / Kate Bush by David Michell
059 My hero / Irom Chanu Sharmila by Kishwar Desai
060 My hero / John Gross by Victoria Glendinning
061 My hero / Constance Garnett by Edna O'Brien
062 My hero / The BBC World Service by Jeremy Paxman
063 My hero / Friedrich Nietzsche by Geoff Dyer
064 My hero / John Titchell RA by Tim Binding
065 My hero / Fast Waller by Michael Longley
066 My hero / Alfred Russell Wallace by Tim Flannery
067 My hero / Ivan Turgenev by Hisham Matar
068 My hero / Michael Jordan by Benjamin Markovitz
069 My hero / Ernest Lubitsch by Adam Thirlwell
070 My hero / Simone Veil by Mary Darrieussecq
071 My hero / John le Carré by Carlos Ruiz Safón
072 My hero / Janusz Korczak by Eva Hoffman
073 My hero / George Eliot by Lisa Appignanesi
074 My hero / John Cooke by Geoffrey Robertson
075 My hero / Aung San by Aung San Suu Kyi
076 My hero / Charles James Fox by Stella Tillyard
077 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
078 My hero / Bertold Brecht Michael Hoffmann
079 My hero / Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain by Tahmima Anam
080 My hero / Emily Dickinson by Helen Oyeyemi
081 My hero / Stefan Obreht by Téa Obreht
082 My heros / John Berger, Gordon Banks and Sean McCann by Colum Mc Cann
083 My hero / Tony Benn by Jad Adams

086 Martina Navratilova by Patrick Ness
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
088 Stanley Kubrick by Tom Rob Smith
089 Björk by Joe Dunthorne
090 James Joyce by Carol Birch
091 Paul Klee by Philip Hensher
092 John Boyd Orr by Alasdair Gray
093 Edmund Penning-Rowsell by Jancis Robinson
094 Amos Almond by David Almond
095 My hero / Les Murray by Daljit Nagra
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
098 Joan Maynard by Chris Mullin
099 Flann O'Brien by Ian Sansom
100 My hero / Tomas Tranströmer
101 My hero / Maureen Kelman by Stephen Kelman
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill
103 My hero / KM Peyton by Meg Rosoff
104 My hero / Ernest Shaskleton by Anthony Horowitz
105 My hero / Alan Turing by Alan Garner
106 My hero / Audre Lorde by Jackie Kay
107 My hero / WG Hoskins by Penelope Lively
108 My hero / Primo Levi by Siddartha Mukherjee
109 My hero / Christopher Logue by Craig Raine
110 My hero / Russell Hoban by Will Self
111 My hero / Arnold Lobell by Julia Donaldson
112 My hero / Peter Scott by Louisa Yong

113 My hero / Ronald Searle by Quentin Blake
114 My hero / Patrick Hamilton by Eoin Colfer
115 My hero / Evariste Galois by Andrew Miller
115 My hero / Nadime Gordimer by Tessa Hadley
117 My hero / Charles Dickens by Simon Callow
118 My hero / Jarvis Cooker by Jon McGregor
119 My hero / Michael Ondaatje by Teju Cole
120 My hero / Graham Greene by Richard Holloway
121 My hero / Thomas Paine by Sue Townsend
122 My hero / Raphael Lemkin by AL Kennedy
123 My hero / Armistead Maupin by Patrick Gale
124 My hero / Stephen Haff by Peter Carey
125 My hero / Sigmund Freud by John Gray
126 My hero / Adrienne Rich by Ensler
127 My hero / John Keats by Andrew Motin (Kiss)
128 My hero / George Eliot by Cynthia Ozick
129 My hero / Walter Benjamin by Elif Shafak
130 My hero / Edward St Aubyn by Ann Patchett
131 My hero / Maurice Sendak by Neil Gaiman
131 My hero / Carlos Fuentes by Alberto Manguel and Liz Calder
133 My hero /
134 My hero / Homer by Madeline Miller
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146 My hero / Roald Dahl by Michael Rosen

156 My hero / Barack Obama by Lorrie Moore
160 My hero / Charles Baudelaire by Roberto Calasso
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::::::: 2013
167 My hero / Oliver Sacks by Hilary Mantel
169 My hero / Jean Rhys by Linda Grant
174 My hero / Alice Munro by Nell Freudenberger
176 My hero / Mae West by Kathy Lette
181 My hero / Lydia Davis by Ali Smith
184 My hero / Louise Bourgeois by Tracey Emin
185 My hero / Albert Camus by David Constantine
190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer
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:::::::: 2014
206 My hero / Sir John Tenniel by Chris Riddell
207 My hero /
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211 My hero / Mavis Gallant by Jhumpa Lahiri and Michael Ondaatje
212 My hero /
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219 My hero / William Shakespeare by Susan Cooper
222 My hero / Emily Brontë by Lucasta Miller
227 My hero / Salman Rushdie by Antonia Fraser
233 My hero / Robin Williams by Anne Fine
241 My hero / Mary Shelley by Neil Gaiman
244 My hero / Jim Shepard by Joshua Ferris
246 My hero / P.D. James by Val McDermid
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:::::: 2015
279 My hero / Truman Capote's In Cold Blood at 50
280 My hero / George Weindelfel by Antonia Fraser
281 My hero / Dmitri Shostakovich by Julian Barnes
282 My hero / Charlotte Brontë by Tracy Chevalier
283 My hero / Margaret Foster by Valerie Grove
284 My hero / David Cesarini by David Herman
285 My hero / Umberto Eco by Jonathan Coe
286 My hero / Louise Rennison by Philip Ardagh