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



H
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.




2009

2010

2011

2012

2013



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.




2009
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 (Kiss)

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

2010

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
022
024
025
026
027
028
029
030

031
032
033
034
036 My hero / Rober Lowell by Jonathan Raban (Kiss)
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 (Kiss)
043
044
045
046
047
048
049
050

051
052
053
054
055
056
057
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal



2011
084 John Berger, Gordon Banks and Sean McCann 
085 Tony Benn
086 Martina Navratilova
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
088 Stanley Kubrick
089 Björk
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
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
098 Joan Maynard
099 Flann O'Brien

2012
120 My hero / Graham Greene by Richard Holloway
134 My hero / Homer by Madeline Miller
146 My hero / Roald Dahl by Michael Rosen

156 My hero / Barack Obama by Lorrie Moore
160 My hero / Charles Baudelaire by Roberto Calasso (Kiss)

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

2014
206 My hero / Sir John Tenniel by Chris Riddell
211 My hero / Mavis Gallant by Jhumpa Lahiri and Michael Ondaatje
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

2015


2016