Ancestors in the Attic by Michael Holroyd
Including My Great-Grandmother’s Book of Ferns and My Aunt’s Book of Silent Actors

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Exquisitely tuned to those eccentricities, Holroyd’s sharp tap sets the ears ringing. “We were like astronomers,” he says, “unable to see light and measure time before the Big Bang.”
-Guardian

Synopsis

Michael Holroyd, perhaps the most distinguished of contemporary biographers, has in recent years turned his attention to the stories hidden within his own fascinating (not to say eccentric) family. In Ancestors in the Attic he teases out two especially intriguing episodes, the tales of his great-grandmother and his aunt, which he categorizes respectively as tragedy and comedy. He tells their stories not only in words but also in pictures, through two very different collections made by the women, which he discovered in the attic of a house in Maidenhead: the ferns preserved and stitched into beautiful, intricate patterns by his tragic greatgrandmother, Anne Eliza Holroyd, in the 1870s; and the photographs of silent movie actors collected by his lively young aunt, Yolande Holroyd, in the 1920s. Included here are two volumes − My Great-Grandmother’s Book of Ferns and My Aunt’s Book of Silent Actors − a fascinating record of a very special family history. My Great-Grandmother’s Book of Ferns includes a foreword by leading pteridologist Martin Rickard. Christopher Fraser-Jenkins, world expert on Indian ferns, has identified, and provided a commentary on, the ferns used by Anne Eliza Holroyd.
 

About Michael Holroyd

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Sir Michael Holroyd is the author of biographies of Lytton Strachey, Bernard Shaw, and others. His awards include the the Golden PEN award, the Heywood Hill Literary Prize, the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and the Irish Life Arts Award.
 
Published December 1, 2017 by Pimpernel Press. 128 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Crafts, Hobbies & Home.
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Susan Sheahan on Oct 31 2017

Exquisitely tuned to those eccentricities, Holroyd’s sharp tap sets the ears ringing. “We were like astronomers,” he says, “unable to see light and measure time before the Big Bang.”

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