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Something of Themselves: Kipling, Kingsley, Conan Doyle, and the Anglo-Boer War

Available from Hurst (February 2020): https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/something-of-themselves/

Sarah LeFanu’s new book is a thoughtful biography tracing the paths of three literary greats through a turbulent period in Britain’s imperial history.

‘Imaginatively conceived, meticulously researched and subtly narrated, Something of Themselves is not only a biographical treasure trove but also offers fresh insights into that charged moment when the writing was at last firmly on the wall for old-style British imperialism.’ – David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain, Family Britain and most recently (with Francis Green) Engines of Privilege: Britain’s Private School Problem

‘A brilliantly insightful, very moving examination of three writers on the battlefield. LeFanu reveals each of her subjects to be engaged in his or her own private war, at the same time as they participated in the war that came to define the cruelty and confusion of the British Empire.’ – Lara Feigel, author of Free Woman; The Bitter Taste of Victory; and The Love-charm of Bombs

‘In Something of Themselves, [LeFanu] places Kipling alongside Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Kingsley at the center of a fascinating study recounting their experiences in the Boer War, a conflict that all three witnessed at close hand.’ – Benjamin Shull, Wall Street Journal

‘[An] ambitious but compelling biographical work. … There is as much joy in it for readers as there are lessons for writers … magisterial.’ – Uddalak Mukherjee, Telegraph of India

‘[An] elegant and moving group biography, remedying various degrees of neglect and misjudgement.’ – Max Carter, Air Mail

‘Something of Themselves comprises excellent analysis … Throughout, [LeFanu] provides insights into the writings of her subjects … the mixture of well-digested detail and emotional understanding is pleasing.’ – Andrew Lycett, Spectator

‘How the Anglo-Boer War was written about had profound social and political effects. LeFanu makes a valuable contribution to our understanding.’ – New Statesman