Angus Wilson was a critic, lecturer and man of letters. Pre-eminently though he was a novelist, indeed, in the words of Paul Bailey 'no other novelist of his generation offered as complete and detailed a portrait of English society.'
His first volume of stories, The Wrong Set (1949) - reissued in Faber Finds - launched Wilson as one of the most controversial, colourful and entertaining figures on the post-war literary scene, and he rapidly developed into a major novelist, maturing from enfant terrible to elder statesman in the process. Margaret Drabble's biography traces the influences of his bizarrely extended family, his years as a librarian at the British Museum - interrupted by a grim spell in the code-breaking huts at Bletchley Park - and his unexpected liberation as a writer. It portrays the dizzying progress of a writer and enthusiast whose work was at the forefront of English fiction for the second-half of the twentieth-century: above all it is a portrait of an artist of enormous courage, a man who confronted challenge to the very end.
In his later years he became both influence and mentor for a younger generation of writers, including Ian McEwan, Rose Tremain and Margaret Drabble herself. Margaret Drabble knew Angus Wilson from the late 1960s and her biography is enriched with personal knowledge and recollections.
'He has been fortunate in his biographer . . . Altogether, with the assistance and consent of Tony Garrett, the dedicatee and second hero of the book, she has given a minute, intimate and candid account . . . of Wilson's hectic life.' Frank Kermode, London Review of Books
'A solid tribute of scholarship and affection' Penelope Fitzgerald, Independent
'No one interested in the story of modern fiction can fail to find this life fascinating. Its virtues - a bright, crowded canvas, warmth, a witty, polished style - are those of Wilson's novels . . . Through it all shines so human a picturer of a courageous, doubting, eccentric, driven writer.' Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times