Renowned biographer Michael Holroyd had always assumed that his own family was perfectly English, or at least perfectly ordinary. But an investigation into the Holroyd past-guided by old photograph albums, crumbling documents, and his parents' wildly divergent accounts of their lives-gradually yields clues to a constellation of startling events and eccentric characters: a slow decline from English nobility on one side, a dramatic Scandinavian ancestry on the other. Fires, suicides, bankruptcies, divorces, unconsummated longings, and the rumor of an Indian tea fortune permeate this wry, candid memoir, "part multiple biography, part autobiography, but principally an oblique investigation of the biographer's art" (New York Times Book Review). "[A] perfect example of a memoir that entrances me."-Katherine A. Powers, Boston Sunday Globe "[O]ne of the few [biographers] who can convey what makes ordinary as well as extraordinary mortals live in our minds."-Los Angeles Times
Michael Holroyd has written celebrated biographies of Hugh Kingsmill, Augustus John, and Bernard Shaw, as well as the acclaimed Basil Street Blues and Mosaic. He lives in London with his wife.