Charlie Chaplin: Book summary and reviews of Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd

Charlie Chaplin

A Brief Life (Ackroyd's Brief Lives)

by Peter Ackroyd

Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2014
    304 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

He was the very first icon of the silver screen and is one of the most recognizable of Hollywood faces, even a hundred years after his first film. But what of the man behind the moustache?

Peter Ackroyd's new biography turns the spotlight on Chaplin's life as well as his work, from his humble theatrical beginnings in music halls to winning an honorary Academy Award. Everything is here, from the glamor of his golden age to the murky scandals of the 1940s and eventual exile to Switzerland. There are charming anecdotes along the way: playing the violin in a New York hotel room to mask the sound of Stan Laurel frying pork chops and long Hollywood lunches with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

This masterful brief biography offers fresh revelations about one of the most familiar faces of the last century and brings the Little Tramp vividly to life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Detailed yet breezy, full of sharp insights into Chaplin's public and private personas ... Expect plenty of interest in this fine biography."- Booklist

"Starred Review. Ackroyd's book introduces the Little Tramp in such a charming and candid fashion that it will drive movie buffs to watch Chaplin on screen once again." - Publishers Weekly

"Award-winning author Ackroyd exposes the hidden truths in Chaplin's life that help us to understand the artist both personally and professionally. An exceptional read for those who love Chaplin, film, history, and gossip." - Library Journal

" A comprehensive look at Chaplin the man but lacking as a portrait of the artist and his legacy." - Kirkus

"Chaplin's rise makes an enthralling story, and it's one perfectly suited to Peter Ackroyd's prodigious and idiosyncratic talents ... Ackroyd acknowledges Chaplin's many human failings, while at the same time giving us a vivid sense of what made the man a genius." - The Telegraph (UK)

"[A] fine biography ... The luxury of a short book about a vast life cannot be overestimated." - Financial Times (UK)

"Ackroyd has turned in the best account of Chaplin's formation beneath the teetering chimney stacks of Victorian London, fragrant with the odours of dung, smoke and beer ... Ackroyd is just the man to puncture the whoppers with which Chaplin embroidered his past, without being too much of a scold." - New Statesman (UK)

"Ackroyd brings a novelist's as well as a biographer's eye to the story of a man who 'seemed to epitomise the human condition itself, flawed and frail and funny.'" - Independent (UK)

"Compact, engrossing, intelligent." - Sunday Times (UK)

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Author Information

Peter Ackroyd Author Biography

Photo © Charles Hopkinson

Novelist, biographer, and poet Peter Ackroyd was born in London on October 5, 1949.

He graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, and studied at Yale University as a Mellon Fellow, where he completed Notes for a New Culture: An Essay on Modernism, published in 1976. On his return from Yale, he worked for The Spectator magazine in London as literary editor (1973-7), then as joint managing editor (1978-82) and film critic. He is chief book reviewer for The Times newspaper and a regular broadcaster on radio. He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1984.

Equally acclaimed for both his inventive biographies and his formally diverse fiction, Ackroyd blends past and present, fact and fiction in his writing.

He also displays a genius for literary impersonation, both in his ...

... Full Biography
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