Author(s): Richard Holmes
In this classic work, the author of 'Footsteps' collects the biographical stories that have captured his fancy in the course of researching his books on the romantic poets, creating a captivating mixture of biography and memoir. 'Sidetracks' is a sister book to 'Footsteps', conjured up from decades of 'wanderings from the straight and narrow' of his major biographies of Shelley and Coleridge. As Holmes himself says, 'to be sidetracked is, after all, to be led astray by a path or an idea, a scent or a tune, and maybe lost forever.' The centerpiece of the book is the poignant, inspiring story of Mary Woolstonecraft, the great feminist crusader and philosopher and her husband, William Godwin. But 'Sidetracks' winds through an extraordinary and eclectic assortment of Romantic and Gothic writers and personalities, all made hypnotically alive through Holmes's transforming touch. We meet Chatterton and Gautier, Pierrot and Voltaire, Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, James Boswell and Zelide, MR James and some very unpleasant gothic apparitions. 'Sidetracks' is a renewed examination of the strange and sometimes shadowy pathways of biography.