OVERRIDE

On Wheels

Michael Holroyd

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

From the bestselling author of A Book of Secrets, a brisk, charming, illustrated account of a motoring life

As a child, Michael Holroyd spent his best hours in his family’s cramped garage, which contained a wealth of magical, exciting objects. But the most intriguing by far was the one in the middle of the room—the family’s eight-horsepower black Ford, which had found in the garage a permanent home and in Holroyd a dedicated caretaker. Sitting in the backseat—his own private castle—he began his love affair with the automobile.
     On Wheels is the story of the cars and drivers that inspired and affected Holroyd throughout his life. Ranging from drives around the country with his father, a car obsessive, to the baroque horrors of his austere driving instructor, to the liberating pleasures of automatic transmission, On Wheels is an automotive autobiography—the story of times and places that mattered to the author, told through the cars that bore witness.
     “My biographies,” Holroyd writes, “became increasingly filled with motoring exploits—something of which I was unaware until recently,” and so On Wheels is also a reflection on the author’s many brilliant biographical subjects—Bernard Shaw, Lytton Strachey, and many others—and their own relationships to the open road.
     Casually intimate and often riotously funny, On Wheels is a master biographer’s miniature self-portrait—and an indelible reflection on his great passion.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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CHAPTER 1
SHORTLY BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR
 
 
Shortly before the Second World War my aunt manoeuvred the family’s black, eight-horsepower Ford into the garage of our new house at Maidenhead. I didn’t see her do this (I was three or four at the time). But no one else could have done it – certainly not my grandfather or grandmother. My aunt seemed both conventional and eccentric, living a safe life in quiet anger, though able to take sudden initiatives which hinted at happier, more adventurous early years. She loved and admired her father, but not her
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REVIEWS

Praise for On Wheels

Praise for A Book of Secrets

“Written with the kind of elegance, ease, and simplicity possible only from a master.” —Toni Bentley, The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant . . . Holroyd is an impeccable writer and researcher, a man whose books are packed with intricate detail yet retain a buoyancy.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Michael Holroyd

  • Michael Holroyd is the author of acclaimed biographies of George Bernard Shaw, the painter Augustus John, Lytton Strachey, and Ellen Terry and Henry Irving; two memoirs, Basil Street Blues and Mosaic; and the bestselling A Book of Secrets, which was published in 2011. Knighted for his services to literature, he is the president emeritus of the Royal Society of Literature and the only nonfiction writer to have been awarded the David Cohen British Prize for Literature. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble.

  • Michael Holroyd
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Available Formats and Book Details

On Wheels

Michael Holroyd

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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