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Erotic Vagrancy

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780857381729

Price: £30

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‘The book of the year’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘One of the very best biographies I have ever read’ STEPHEN FRY
‘A hot thunderstorm of a book’ DAVID HARE
Erotic Vagrancy gave me a week of pure joy’ CRAIG BROWN
‘Unputdownable’ TONY PALMER
‘A genius writer’ LYNN BARBER

‘ABSOLUTE MASTERPIECE . . . ONE OF THE GREAT READING EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE’ MARINA HYDE
A TOP 25 BEST BOOK OF 2023 (INDEPENDENT)

Thirteen years in the writing, Erotic Vagrancy doesn’t only surpass every other biography of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton yet to appear, this rich, vital and passionately articulated book, which is as extravagant and wayward as its two subjects, is also about celebrity, creativity, being flawed, being brilliant, sexuality, the intermingling of a low and a highbrow existence, pride, insecurity, attraction and repulsion, and devilry.

We see Taylor the child actress exchanging dogs and horses for husbands. We see Burton emerging from the mists and brimstone of Wales to be the greatest theatrical animal of his generation. The pair come together in Rome during the making of Cleopatra, which gives Lewis the opportunity for a major farcical set-piece. We then enter a world of jewels and private jets, vodka, yachts and furs – the splendid vulgarity of the Sixties, where the narrative of Taylor and Burton becomes a Pop Art story.

Then, inevitably, it all goes wrong, with alcoholism, violence, recrimination and divorce ( twice ) – with Burton, whom Lewis depicts as a Faustus figure, damned by fame, dead at fifty-eight.

Stephen Fry has said, ‘It is one of the very best biographies I have ever read. One of the best books about fame, desire, Hollywood and mid-to-late twentieth century culture ever written. Inside which, brilliant, hilarious and sensitive insights on all manner of subjects fizz and froth. Magnificent, terrible, tragic, triumphant.’

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Reviews

Thirteen years in the writing, Erotic Vagrancy doesn't only surpass every other biography of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton yet to appear, this rich and articulate book is also about celebrity, creativity, being flawed and being brilliant.
Belfast Telegraph
It is one of the very best biographies I have ever read. One of the best books about fame, desire, Hollywood and mid-to-late twentieth-century culture ever written. Inside which, brilliant, hilarious and sensitive insights on all manner of subject fizz and froth. Magnificent, terrible, tragic, triumphant.
Stephen Fry
Lewis' prose, so electrifying, so funny, so sharp, so unsolemn, always going in unexpected directions, and with all those hilarious asides. Erotic Vagrancy gave me a week of pure joy
Craig Brown
A hot thunderstorm of a book
David Hare
Unputdownable
Tony Palmer
Fascinating and hilarious . . . The joy is in the writing and the writing is joyful . . . The boldness of Lewis's writing is perfectly suited to the charisma of his subjects.
Hadley Freeman, Sunday Times
As extravagant and uncompromising as its badly behaved stars.
Observer
Lewis's magnum opus is a masterpiece in a genre of his own invention.
The Times
He is a genius writer . . . - brilliant, witty, exhilarating, and a fund of good stories.
The Telegraph
A wonderful book . . . so deliciously written . . . Erotic Vagrancy is the biography of the year. Correction. It's the book of the year and then some
Mail on Sunday
A dionysiac humdinger.
Spectator (Duncan Fallowell Book of the Year)
The 'battling Burtons' Liz Taylor and Richard Burton were the most glamorous celebrity couple ever. Passionately devoted to each other, the high life and - fatally - the bottle, this fascinating account of their love affair is gripping stuff.
New Statesman
Stupendous book
Scotsman
This eccentric, baroque and often funny book, full of riffs, asides and venom, is a study of megastardom, excess and monstrous personalities.
Robbie Millen, The Times
Tantalising
Sunday Independent
Excellent . . . Lewis has managed to create something bigger and more extravagant than a biography . . . Erotic Vagrancy manages to be both beautiful and ugly, romantic and putrid, which befits Burton and Taylor, their love, their style, their era which is long gone.
Sight and Sound