10 essential biographies to read this winter

The autumn is always a busy time for publishers, and it’s been just a couple of weeks since so-called ‘Super Thursday’ saw a massive 426 brand-new hardbacks published.

While this year’s festive bestsellers are likely to include new works by Philip Pullman, Margaret Attwood, Bill Bryson and JoJo Moyes, there is also a wide choice of real-life stories.

So, here is our pick of ten of the best biographies from the worlds of current affairs, entertainment and sport for you to read this winter.

  • Me by Elton John

Having seen the story of his life brought to the big screen this year in the film Rocketman, legendary singer-songwriter Elton John now opens up about his extraordinary life in this warts-and-all autobiography.

Me is a candid memoir of Elton’s life and career, from growing up in Pinner to becoming a global superstar. It chronicles both the lows of his early rejection and his battles with drugs and alcohol to the highs of sell-out world tours and a fulfilling family life.

  • For The Record by David Cameron

Little has been seen of the former Prime Minister since he resigned in the wake of the EU referendum result back in 2016.

Now, Cameron talks about his six-year premiership in this new memoir which covers the coalition government, austerity, educational reform, the Arab Spring and the London 2012 Olympics.

Of course, the defining moment of his career was the European referendum, and this book shares Cameron’s perspective on the personalities and politics involved in frank and candid detail.

  • Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

If you have read Adam Kay’s hilarious and heart-breaking memoir This Is Going To Hurt, chronicling his time as an NHS doctor, you won’t want to miss this festive follow-up.

Kay returns with more jet-black anecdotes about life on the wards, this time focusing on the hard-working heroes of the NHS during the Christmas period.

Described as a ‘love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line’, Kay shares more stories and gallows humour about life in the National Health Service.

  • Who Am I, Again? by Lenny Henry

In 1975, a 16-year-old from the Black Country appeared on our TV screens for the first time. Now, nearly 45 years later, Lenny Henry has achieved the status of ‘national treasure’ and he tells his story for the first time in his new autobiography.

Raised as one of seven siblings to recent immigrants from Jamaica, Henry tells of how he overcame racist bullying at school to New Faces and beyond. As he says, at every stage he wondered: “Am I good enough? Is this what they want? Who am I, again?”

  • An Improbable Life by Trevor McDonald

Now in his 80th year, few public figures are lucky enough to possess the authority of Sir Trevor McDonald.

As a journalist and newsreader, McDonald’s career has spanned more than fifty years and here he tells of his encounters with numerous world leaders.

Cleverly mixing personal stories with the biggest current affairs events of the last half a century, McDonald recounts tales of war and struggle, and his many meetings with both despots and liberators.

His stories include the first British television interview with Nelson Mandela, the inauguration of Barack Obama and his dramatic meetings with Saddam Hussein (the first and only one by a British television correspondent) and Muammar Gadaffi.

  • Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley

In the 1980s there was no bigger pop band than Wham! Following the premature death of singer George Michael in 2016, his bandmate Andrew Ridgeley now tells the story of life as an 80s icon.

From meeting Michael at Bushey Meads School to becoming the biggest band in the world within a decade, this warm and affectionate memoir looks at the pop landscape of the 1980s through the eyes of one of its major stars.

Ridgeley shares the inside story of Wham!, his lifelong friendship with George Michael and the pair’s stellar pop career, up to the band’s final concert at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

  • Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain

It’s been quite the journey from growing up as a first-generation British Bangladeshi in Luton to TV stardom and the bestseller lists. For the first time, Nadiya Hussain tells the remarkable story of her life, from an arranged marriage to winning the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off in 2015.

In this witty and open-hearted book, Nadiya tells the story of her life and, for the first time, shares the memories and experiences that have shaped her into the woman and role-model that she is today.

  • A Day Like Today by John Humphreys

Written to coincide with his retirement from the BBC’s Today programme, A Day Like Today tells the story of Humphreys’ 33-year tenure as the host of the popular Radio 4 breakfast show.

Well-known for his tough questioning and his deep suspicion of authority, this book tells the story of the Mastermind host’s life, including his Cardiff childhood, covering Watergate as a journalist, hosting the BBC’s Nine O’Clock News and his 33 years holding politicians to account on Radio 4’s Today – the nation’s most popular news programme.

Combining a behind-the-scenes account of working at the BBC with his insights and stories about major politicians, figures in the news, and celebrities, it gives an unmissable view of some of the great events of the last 60 years from his unique perspective.

  • Suddenly A Footballer by Juan Mata

Regarded as one of the most thoughtful and compassionate footballers, Spanish international Juan Mata shares his story in this brand-new autobiography.

Recalling his childhood and glory years with Chelsea and Spain, the Manchester United midfielder is one of the game’s most likeable characters, regularly sharing his refreshing assessment of modern football on his personal blog.

A World Cup and European Championships winner with Spain, Mata discusses the players and experiences that have influenced his career, from the anxiety of leaving his family for Real Madrid at the age of 15 to walking down the tunnel for a Champions League final.

  • Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner

Very few of us will ever see ourselves portrayed in a big-budget TV drama, but that’s what is about to happen to Anne Glenconner.

The former Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret will be seen in the new series of The Crown this autumn and this insightful autobiography reveals the real events behind the Royal Family and her own life of drama and courage.

Eldest child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent playmates and she acted as Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation and Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret. Lady Glenconner is a unique witness to royal history, and her own extraordinary life combines rockstar glamour with personal tragedy.

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