In this kaleidoscope of stories spanning art, science and poetry, award-winning writer Richard Holmes travels across three centuries, through much of Europe and into the lively company of many earlier biographers.
Central to this pursuit is a powerful evocation of the lives of women both scientific and literary, some well-known and others almost lost: Margaret Cavendish, Mary Somerville, Germaine de Staël, Mary Wollstonecraft and Zélide. He investigates the love-stunned John Keats, the waterlogged Percy Bysshe Shelley, the chocolate-box painter Thomas Lawrence, the opium-soaked genius Coleridge, and the mad-visionary bard William Blake.
The diversity of Holmes’s material is testimony to his empathy, erudition and at times his mischievous streak. This is his most personal and seductive writing yet.