Browse through biographies

Dear DiaryAnyone wishing to follow Disraeli’s advice that we “Read no history–nothing but biography, for that is life without theory,” would be happy to browse in Brunel Library.

We have many biographies, enabling you to accompany  the entrepreneur Richard Branson in “Losing my virginity,”   or to follow James Dyson going “Against the odds” in his career as a designer. There are books about the famous, such as Gloria Steinem’s life of Marilyn Monroe, “Marilyn: Norma Jeane,” and the obscure, such as the resourceful hobo woman, Boxcar Bertha, a “Sister of the road.”

There are fascinating accounts of childhood, some sad, such “Once in a house on fire,” by Andrea Ashworth, or “Bad blood” by Lorna Sage. On a more optimistic note, Sarfraz Manzoor wrote about growing up in Luton – “Greetings from Bury Park. Race. Religion. Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Our biographies allow you to discover what it is like to live in different cultures and countries, ranging from Tibet in Rinchen Dolm Taring’s autobiography “Daughter of Tibet,” to Afghanistan with the “Bookseller of Kabul,” and North Wales in “Sugar and Slate.”

Closer to home, John Burnett of Brunel studied working class autobiographies in the 1980s, which led to a bibliography and the Burnett Archive,  held in Special Collections. He edited “Destiny Obscure” and “Useful Toil,” which contain fascinating accounts of the lives of ordinary people in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There is a Pinterest board giving details of other biographies that are in stock, and a book display is now in place on the ground floor of the Library. So follow Disraeli’s advice – read a biography!

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