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Wainewright the Poisoner: the Memoir of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright-Regency Author, Painter, Swindler, and Probable Murderer-Brilliantly Woven

by Motion, Andrew

  • ISBN: 9780375402098
  • ISBN10: 0375402098

Wainewright the Poisoner: the Memoir of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright-Regency Author, Painter, Swindler, and Probable Murderer-Brilliantly Woven

by Motion, Andrew

  • List Price: $26.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Publish date: 01/01/2003
  • ISBN: 9780375402098
  • ISBN10: 0375402098
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Description: In the course of research on the Romantic Era for his widely praised biography of Keats, Andrew Motion's attention was caught by the extraordinary figure of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright (1794-1847). A gentlemanly minor litterateur and painter who was more or less closely acquainted with everyone from Blake to Byron, he fell into debt, attempted several swindles, and eventually committed at least one murder -- or so the story went. Transported to Tasmania as a common criminal, he finally died there. Later, as the man himself slipped into obscurity, writers like Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens felt free to use Wainewright's story as the basis for lurid melodrama about the evil that lurks in unlikely places.

Faced with unbridgeable gaps in the historical record, Andrew Motion has taken the bold and brilliant step of bringing this odd personality back to life by creating an imaginary autobiographical memoir for him, in his own voice. The document is convincing and deeply moving, by turns evasive and revelatory. Motion's accompanying detailed notes and commentary explain and enhance Wainewright's words -- and sometimes contradict them.

The result is no less than a new kind of biography, complex and multi-layered and intensely readable, with much to say about the Romantic fascination with the darker side of human nature, about crime, and about the art of biography itself. And of course about Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, who emerges from this book an even stranger and more memorable character than anyone suspected.

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