Wainewright the Poisoner

Andrew Motion
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ISBN 9780571205462 Format Paperback
Published 19/02/2001 Length 336 pages

About Book

A dazzling and boldly original biography by Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate and the celebrated biographer of Larkin and Keats. Thomas Griffiths Wainewright was an ingenious and unscrupulous criminal. In 1828 he inherited the handsome family home, while successive legacies allowed him to maintain a flamboyant lifestyle. Meanwhile, within the space of a few years, three of his relatives died in suspicious circumstances. Eventually tried and arrested, Wainewright was transported for life to Tasmania.

Yet he had lived at the centre of the Romantic world. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and painted Byron's portrait. He was good friends with Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Charles Lamb, and knew John Clare, William Hazlitt, Thomas de Quincey and John Keats. He was known as amiable, kind, and good-hearted. Combining the form of a 'confession' with notes, asides and illuminations, Wainewright the Poisoner strips away the layers of legend and restores Wainewright to his own voice, capturing his dandified style, his charm as well as his callousness, his wit as well as his wantonness - and his deadly unreliability.

  • About Andrew Motion

    Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems is The Customs House (2012). Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. In 2014 he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.

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