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Escape artist - Joseph McAleer

9780198794943
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Title
Escape artist - the nine lives of Harry Perry Robinson
Author
Joseph McAleer
format
Hardback
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20200827

The life of Sir Harry Perry Robinson (1859-1930) unfolds like a Boy's Own adventure. Born in India and educated at Oxford, Harry fled to the United States to make his name and fortune. After a stint in the gold mines of the American West, he became a major force in the railroad industry and helped to elect a U.S. President. Returning to England, Harry had a celebrated career as a book publisher (discovering the American author Jack London) and as a journalist forThe Times, serving as the oldest correspondent during the First World War and going on to have one of the scoops of the century: the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923.Harry's incredible journey unfolds against the background of his equally adventurous and accomplished family. His father, Julian, was an Indian Army chaplain and newspaper editor. His aunt was a suffragette and personal friend of both Disraeli and Gladstone. Brother Philip was a dashing foreign correspondent, arrested as a spy during the Spanish-American War. Brother Edward ('Kay'), founder of the British Empire Naturalists' Association, gave Rudyard Kipling his first writing job. And troubledsister Valence was rumoured to end her days living in a barrel on a roadside in Bulawayo. From the White House to Buckingham Palace, the American West to the Western Front, the sands of Egypt to the shores of India, the board room to the bedroom, Harry was a master of reinvention, and each of the nine 'lives' he assumed allowed an 'escape' from one experience into the next. His innate wanderlust was both a blessing and a curse, but it made for a splendid adventure, and Harry's was a grand life lived in history's shadow.

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Joseph McAleer's previous books include Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 (OUP, 1992), which received the inaugural Longmans/History Today Book of the Year Award; Passion's Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon (OUP, 1999); and Call of the Atlantic: Jack London's Publishing Odyssey Overseas, 1902-1916 (OUP, 2016). A Connecticut Yankee with a doctorate from Oxford, he has held a variety of interesting jobs,
including college professor, administrator of the Hawthornden Castle Literary Institute, corporate PR head, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church, publisher, and national film critic.

What McAleer has come up with is a forensic yet readable account of the gifted, personally adventurous but politically conservative Robinson.

Dominic Maxwell, The Times

Robinson's journalistic career gave him a ringside seat at some of the most dramatic events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, from the American Gold Rush of the 1880s to the excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb. He had the three crucial attributes common to all great reporters: an eye for a good story, the wit and tenacity to research it properly and the ability to write it up in an entertaining way ... Joseph McAleer has performed a valuable service in bringing
his fine work to the fore.

William Cook, The Spectator

Escape Artist is well researched and, for the most part, well-written

Wall Street Journal

I don't think I've ever enjoyed a memoir as much as I enjoyed this life of Harry Perry Robinson. The book is a 'keeper' that I intend to read more than once. Author Joseph McAleer has done us a great favor by so ably bringing this complex and intriguing character to life again.

David F. Beer, Roads to the Great War

Here is a life out of the ordinary that holds especial interest.

Philip Waller, University of Oxford, author of Writers, Readers, and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918

Type
BOOK
Keyword Index
Great Britain - Biography.
Country of Publication
England
Number of Pages
384

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