The first major biography of comic genius Spike Milligan, who died in February 2002, by one of Britain's leading biographers.
Spike Milligan was one of our best-loved comics as well as one of our most original. In this first major assessment of Spike's life and career, the highly respected biographer Humphrey Carpenter has - through copious research and access to many of those closest to the great man - unearthed a character who could be as difficult and contradictory as he was generous and talented.
The creator of The Goons was to influence a whole generation of comics, yet was never to feel fully valued. His periods of depression were matched by periods of high creativity - there were poems, novels, volumes of biography, as well as TV series and a one-man show as Spike searched for his best means of expression. There was also, as revealed here, his inveterate womanising. Married three times and with four children to whom he was devoted, two illegitimate children were to remain barely acknowledged.
Detailing both his private and professional
life, Humphrey Carpenter gives us the most revealing portrait yet of this highly complex genius.
Carpenter gets to the heart of the gloomy monster. - Sunday Herald
Carpenter's Milligan biography has some great comic riffs ...(this) very readable biography shows him at his most flawed and most human. - Guardian
This biography delves deep behind the comic genius' many masks, exposing a depressed, self-centred and fascinating individual. - OK!
In this definitive biography, Humphrey Carpenter demonstrates how Milligan was his own worst enemy... The beauty of Carpenter's biography is that this man of contradictions is laid before us in all his crazy glory. - Sunday Express
Carpenter has made a very good job, scholarly and entertaining, of turning the adventures of one of Britain's strangest ever talents into a reliable narrative. - Word
This experienced and genial biographer settles down into his familiar, businesslike style, unafraid of addressing the less savoury aspects of his subject. - Observer
Takes us at a cracking pace through Milligan's war service, the Goon Show years, his literary career, and his attempts, largely unsuccessful, to repeat the mass appeal of The Goons ... It is all part of a complex personality that Carpenter has done well to grapple into a readable biography. - The Sunday Times
as close a likeness as you will get. - Spectator
Humphrey Carpenter began his career working for the BBC and appeared on Radio 3 and 4 many times since. He has written many bestselling, award-winning biographies whose subjects include Tolkein, CS Lewis, Ezra Pound, WH Auden, Bejamin Britten, Spike Milligan. He was a prolific author of childrens' book and a skilled jazz musician. He died in January 2005.