Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rebecca West: A Life” as Want to Read:
Rebecca West: A Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rebecca West: A Life

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  33 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
H.G. Wells, Lord Beaverbrook and Charlie Chaplin were among the notable lovers attracted by Rebecca West's fame, beauty and wit. This authorized biography explores the life of the novelist, critic, biographer, and travel writer whose writing left an indelible mark on 20th-century British letters, and whose razor wit and notorious love affairs have made her life almost as l ...more
Hardcover, 511 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Scribner Book Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rebecca West, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rebecca West

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, reviewed
“Rebecca West: A Modern Sibyl” (2017 edition) is a brilliantly crafted biographical masterpiece by Carl Rollyson. A gifted prolific award winning author of over 40 books featuring essay, literary criticism, and the lives of notable people including Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sontag, Martha Gellhorn, Sylvia Plath, Norman Mailer, William Faulkner—and so many others. Rollyson earned his PhD at the University of Toronto.

Born Cicely Isabel Fairfield aka Dame Rebecca West- “RW”-(1892-1983), RW was recogniz
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca West published her first article in 1911, when she was 18, and her last in 1982, when she was nearly 90. In between, she wrote numerous stories, novels and non-fiction books, and hundreds of essays and reviews.

In the final paragraph of this book’s introduction Carl Rollyson sums up Rebecca West’s lively personality...

HG Wells said there would never be another person like her. He was speaking of the person. Frank Swinnerton said there would be another like her. He was speaking of the crit
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe how long it took me to finish this book. It was very good, but extremely detailed. Everything she ever wrote was discussed. Seemingly every detail of her horrible relationship with her son was analyzed. I started out thinking Rebecca was a fascinating character and one who I would have liked to have known. As she grew older however, she seemed to become odder and more paranoid, and I realized that while I enjoy her writing, I wouldn't want to know her. As a person, she was truly ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group, non-fiction
Initial thoughts:
Rebecca West was a perceptive, incisive and feared literary critic from her late teens until her old age. She deserves similar insightful literary criticism of her own work, not a few one-line quotes like those found on back covers. If Carl Rollyson does not feel competent to do it himself, then he should quote the reviews of the time at greater length.
Why does he keep calling her a suffragette, when she disagreed with their exclusivity and thought they had high-jacked an essent
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rebecca West was the pen name of British author Dame Cicely Isabel Fairfield. She has one child, Anthony West, with fellow writer H.G. Wells. This well written chronological biography described her life as a mother, author, literary critic, and book reviewer. Although there are very few footnotes, additional sources are provided in the epilogue, acknowledgment, and extensive bibliography.

I was randomly chosen through a Shelf Awareness Giveaway to receive this book free from the publisher. Althou
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed, lengthy and comprehensive biography. Only criticisms would be the excessive use of the word 'penchant', often referring to Britain as England and too much on Anthony West.
Jennifer Fritsky
Great Book

If you enjoy learning about writers you will enjoy this book on Rebecca West. She is a fascinating woman who has written many amazing books.
Nov 10, 2010 rated it liked it
As one of the originators of the nonfiction novel, Rebecca West deserved a biography that was more novelesque, or, if not that, one that was interpretive enough to make sense of her life or exhaustive enough to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. As it is, this bio offers a good basic chronology, but it makes West herself come across as a vicious, thin-skinned, judgmental, vituperative harpy.

The only interpersonal relationship that Rollyson analyzes in depth is West's with her son Anth
Sep 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
An interesting biography, Rollyson does an excellent job describing West’s work and its importance to literature, journalism, and politics. He also does a thorough job analyzing West’s relationships with her son Anthony, and her lover H.G. Wells. He does a less thorough job, however, when it comes to her extended family; providing only an outline of West’s mother and two sisters. At times the author is simply name dropping; he mentions West’s dislike of T.S. Eliot (going so far as to call him he ...more
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the best biographies I have read so far this year . Carl Rollyson did a tremendously wonderful piece of writing and research in the study of our fabulous Rebecca West . I knew nothing of her until I began to tread of her and then I found she touched lives all over the world . She was a completely mystifying woman . I found the charisma of Rebecca taking over me as I kept reading about her amazing boldness and acceptability with people. She was tolerated because she shocked so man ...more
Jennifer Lauren
rated it really liked it
Dec 12, 2012
Book received from NetGalley.

This is another reprint for Endeavour Press. I enjoyed reading about this writer but I didn't get a lot out of the book. While I have heard of Rebecca West I have never read anything of hers or was super interested in her before. I think once I read one of her books I will enjoy the biography more.
Lorna Gibb
rated it it was amazing
Dec 18, 2015
rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2008
rated it really liked it
Jan 09, 2010
Karen Hogan
rated it it was ok
Mar 14, 2012
Crystal Jones
rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2014
rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2012
Ron Antonucci
rated it liked it
Nov 04, 2016
myra lowell
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2017
Jessica  McNeil
rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2017
Russell Wodell
rated it really liked it
Apr 08, 2010
rated it really liked it
Feb 03, 2009
rated it liked it
Sep 09, 2011
Jane Louis-Wood
rated it liked it
Feb 15, 2018
rated it really liked it
Sep 01, 2008
rated it liked it
Mar 11, 2013
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2012
Jeff Jones
rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2017
The Odyssey Press
rated it it was amazing
Apr 20, 2017
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Bright Young Things: "Rebecca West: A Modern Sibyl" by Carl Rollyson 49 27 Aug 09, 2017 02:57PM  
Carl Rollyson, Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, The City University of New York, has published more than forty books ranging in subject matter from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, and Jill Craigie to studies of American culture, genealogy, children’s biography, film, and literary criticism. He has authored more t ...more
More about Carl Rollyson