Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters by Amy Binns #Review #HiddenWyndham #RandomThingsTours

When I was invited to be on the tour for the first biography of author, John Wyndham, I knew that I just had to be on it. This is the sort of book which prompted members of my family to form an orderly queue to read it. They have had to put up with me glancing up from its pages to inform them that they will love this book! Well, their wait is over and I am confident that Hidden Wyndham will not disappoint...

The first biography of the life of science fiction author John Wyndham is now available. It includes the first publication of a collection of love letters to his long-term partner and later wife, Grace Wilson.

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters, by Dr Amy Binns, author and senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), explores Wyndham’s wealthy but traumatic childhood. This was transformed by a spell at the first mixed-sex public school Bedales from 1915 to 1918, the source of the strange but fervent feminism of Consider Her Ways and Trouble with Lichen.

The biography covers his formative years as a pulp fiction writer, his experiences as a censor during the Blitz and his part in the Normandy landings. He described his struggles with his conscience in a moving series of letters to Grace, the teacher with whom he had a 36 year love affair.

 After the war, he transformed the searing experiences of wartime London, France and Germany into a series of bestselling novels: The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Kraken Wakes. But he remained intensely private, shunning fame and finally retiring to live anonymously with Grace in the countryside he loved.

Hidden Wyndham is distributed by Gardners Books and is now available on the Waterstones and Amazon websites, in Kindle and in paperback edition.

My Thoughts

This is a thoughtful and well researched biography of an intensely private author who has been dubbed, 'The invisible man of science fiction'. By the end of the book, you will feel not only that you know him a little better, but that you understand his books a little more clearly too. Throughout the book, Amy Binns seeks to throw light on where he got his inspiration for his stories and characters and traces them back to the roots of his own life. It is a fascinating read.  

    You are given an overview on how the genre of science fiction evolved, on from the novels of H G Wells, through the American and British publishers who were on the lookout for short stories to fill their pulp fiction. What set John Wyndham apart seems to have been his ability to root his stories in the everyday here on Earth and to take a problem to its logical conclusion. You can relate to the plots. You can think, 'What if I was in that situation?' You can recognise patterns of behaviour and look at what happens when society is disrupted and accepted roles are broken. 

    From the period detail of the twentieth century, to insights into John Wyndham's life, you are presented with a readable account which is never dry. The subject comes alive off the page. John and Grace's relationship intrigues and his letters to her are touching as much for what he is unable to say, as what he does. War emerges as a horrifying experience, which he tapped into in his subsequent books.  I always enjoy writing which sends me off on tangents and makes me think. This biography certainly did that and has sent me off to eye up all those John Wyndham books which are on my shelves. 

In short: Illuminating, inspiring, intriguing - wonderful!

About the Author

With a decade of experience in news reporting, Dr Amy Binns is now a writer, researcher and journalism lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire. 

Her PhD was on solutions to difficult behaviour on social media and other online communities, and she has contributed to a report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life on the intimidation of parliamentary candidates. She regularly speaks on Radio Five Live on social media issues.

Hidden Wyndham: Life, Love, Letters, is Dr Binns’ second book. She has also written about local history in the book “Valley of a Hundred Chapels”, also available on Amazon. She has also published papers and chapters on interwar feminism and social history. Dr Binns lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two children.

You can follow Amy here: Twitter   |  Website

Book links: Amazon UK   |  Amazon US  

Thanks to Amy Binns and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

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  1. Thanks so much for your continued blog tour support Pam xx


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