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Rebecca West: A Life

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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
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Michelle
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
...more
Nigeyb
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
...more
Barbara
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
Val
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
...more
Jill
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
...more
Sepehr
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.
Elaine
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
...more
Sariah
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
Dawn
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
Diana
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
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Dec 18, 2015
Glenn
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Sandy
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Karen Hogan
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The Odyssey Press
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Bright Young Things: "Rebecca West: A Modern Sibyl" by Carl Rollyson 49 27 Aug 09, 2017 02:57PM  
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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
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