JIM HENSON: THE BIOGRAPHY (2013)
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER: BEST BIOGRAPHY OF 2013
“Masterful.” – Kirkus
“Illuminating.” – The Atlantic
“Compulsively readable.” — The A.V. Club
“Insightful.” – Parade
“I worked with Jim for over thirty years. He was one of my closest friends. And yet I found out things about him in Jim Henson that were new to me. Brian Jay Jones has captured the layers of Jim’s genius and humanity as well as the flaws that made Jim, like all of us, so delightfully imperfect. Jim needed this book to be written. I thank Brian for giving Jim life again. This book has captured the spirit of Jim Henson.” – Frank Oz
“Jim Henson vibrantly delves into the magnificent man and his Muppet methods. It’s an absolute must read!” — Neil Patrick Harris
For the first time ever—a comprehensive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most innovative creative artists: the incomparable, irreplaceable Jim Henson.
He was a gentle dreamer whose genial bearded visage was recognized around the world, but most people got to know him only through the iconic characters born of his fertile imagination: Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy, Big Bird. The Muppets made Jim Henson a household name, but they were just part of his remarkable story.
This extraordinary biography—written with the generous cooperation of the Henson family—covers the full arc of Henson’s all-too-brief life: from his childhood in Leland, Mississippi; through the years of burgeoning fame in Washington D.C., New York, and London; to the decade of international celebrity that preceded his untimely death at age fifty-three. Drawing on hundreds of hours of new interviews with Henson’s family, friends, and closest collaborators, as well as unprecedented access to private family and company archives (including never-before-seen interviews, business documents, and Henson’s private letters), Brian Jay Jones explores the creation of the Muppets, Henson’s contributions to Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live, and his nearly ten-year campaign to bring The Muppet Show to television. Jones provides the imaginative context for Henson’s non-Muppet projects, including the richly imagined worlds of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth—as well as fascinating misfires like Henson’s dream of opening an inflatable psychedelic nightclub or staging an elaborate all-puppet Broadway show.
An uncommonly intimate portrait, Jim Henson captures all the facets of this American original: the master craftsman who revolutionized the presentation of puppets on television, the savvy businessman whose dealmaking prowess won him a reputation as “the new Walt Disney,” and the creative team leader whose collaborative ethos earned him the undying loyalty of everyone who worked for him. Here also is insight into Henson’s intensely private personal life: his Christian Science upbringing; his love of fast cars, high-stakes gambling, and expensive art; and his weakness for women. Though an optimist by nature, Henson was haunted by the notion that he would not have time to do all the things he wanted to do in life—a fear that his heartbreaking final hours would prove all too well founded.
An up-close look at the charmed life of a legend, Jim Henson gives the full measure to a man whose joyful genius transcended age, language, geography, and culture—and continues to beguile audiences worldwide.
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WASHINGTON IRVING: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL (2008)
Winner of the St. Nicholas Society of New York’s Medal for Literary Excellence
“Charming.” — New York Times
“Definitive.” — Providence Journal
“Engaging.” — The Washington Post Book World
“Authoritative.” — Associated Press
The definitive biography of the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip van Winkle,” quintessential New Yorker, presidential confidant, diplomat, lawyer, and endlessly fascinating charmer.
The first American writer to make his pen his primary means of support, Washington Irving rocketed to fame at the age of 26. In 1809 he published A History of New York under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker to great acclaim. The public’s appetite for all things Irving was insatiable; his name alone guaranteed sales. At the time, he was one of the most famous men in the world, a friend of Dickens, Hawthorne, and Longfellow, as well as Astor, van Buren, and Madison. But his sparkling public persona was only one side of this gentleman author.
In brilliant, meticulous strokes Brian Jay Jones renders Washington Irving in all his flawed splendor – someone who fretted about money and employment, suffered from writer’s block, and doggedly cultivated his reputation. Jones offers as never before a very human portrait of the often contrasting public and private lives of this true American original.
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