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Hunter, Ian.

London (England), Hamish Hamilton Limited, 1987. 211pp, cloth, $25.95, ISBN 0-241-11993-6. Distributed by Penguin Canada.

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Joanne Robertson

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

Hesketh Pearson (1887-1964), a celebrated biographer, has left us with "an accurate and lively cultural and literary history of England." Fascinated by the characters of his contemporaries (George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Beerbohm Tree), and of his personal literary heros (William Shakespeare, Co nan Doyle, Charles Dickens), Pearson researched and wrote thirty-six books, most of them biographies.

It is now the biographer's turn to become the subject of a biography. lan Hunter has drawn extensively from Pearson's letters, diaries, papers, and books to "paint his portrait in prose." We come to know Hesketh Pearson as much through Hunter's perceptions, as through Pearson's own words. Hunter, like Pearson, is "interested in a man, not a critique of a man's work." In an easily read, anecdoial style, he tells of Pearson's childhood and school years, his army experiences and acting career, and of his writing career. There are also many descriptions and anecdotes about the famous people in Pearson's life, many of whom later became subjects of Pearson's biographies.

If the purpose of biography is, as Pearson said, "to bring a man's character to life," then Hunter has succeeded. We are left with a picture of Hesketh Pearson as an individual, as well as with an introduction to his work. There are no footnotes in Nothing to Repent, but Hunter has provided a bibliography of Hesketh Pearson's works.

Nothing to Repent: The Life of Hesketh Pearson is Ian Hunter's second book. His first was Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980).

Joanne Robertson, Dauphin, Man.
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