Alfred Hitchcock by Peter Ackroyd

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Ackroyd, far more convincingly, gives us Hitchcock the industrious craftsman. His work was a solace from his horrors and hang-ups rather than a straightforward depiction of them.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A gripping short biography of the extraordinary Alfred Hitchock, the master of suspense.

Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child. Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century?
     As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press's portrait of him, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films: Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds.
     Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.
 

About Peter Ackroyd

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PETER ACKROYD is the author of London: The Biography, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, Shakespeare: The Biography, and Thames: The Biography. He has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More, as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Award for Literature. His last book was a brief biography of Wilkie Collins.
Author Residence: London, UK
 
Published October 25, 2016 by Nan A. Talese. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Alfred Hitchcock
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Bee Wilson on Mar 25 2015

Ackroyd, far more convincingly, gives us Hitchcock the industrious craftsman. His work was a solace from his horrors and hang-ups rather than a straightforward depiction of them.

Read Full Review of Alfred Hitchcock | See more reviews from Guardian

Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Ian Thomson on Apr 03 2015

In this brief biography, Peter Ackroyd highlights Hitchcock’s Jesuitical secondary school education at St Ignatius College in north London...For all its insight, Peter Ackroyd’s biography is a deft synthesis of numerous other studies of “Alfred the Great”; it is well written, however, and unusually well attuned to the religious element.

Read Full Review of Alfred Hitchcock | See more reviews from Financial Times

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