US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

Untold Stories

Alan Bennett


Untold Stories Download image

ISBN10: 0312426623
ISBN13: 9780312426620

Trade Paperback

704 Pages


Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

An instant bestseller in the U.K., Untold Stories brings together the finest and funniest writing by one of England's best-known literary figures. In his first major collection since Writing Home, Alan Bennett opens with a poignant memoir of growing up in Leeds and closes with an account of his cancer diagnosis and recovery, with everything from his much-celebrated essays to his irreverent comic pieces and reviews in between.


Praise for Untold Stories

"[Alan Bennett's] 1994 book, Writing Home, a collection of diary entries, prefaces to his plays and odd bits of literary journalism, was a surprise best seller in Britain, and now he has followed it up with Untold Stories, an even larger and more varied grab bag. It, too, contains prefaces and diary entries, and also book reviews and introductions, what appear to be some memorial-service tributes, some lectures and essays about art (a particular passion of Bennett's) and three surprising, funny and deeply affecting memoirs: about his family, about getting beaten up in Italy and about his very close call with colon cancer in 1997."—Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review

"Bennett has taken the vulgarity—not to mince words—out of confessional writing by his humor, compassion (for those who deserve it), and self-deprecation . . . the quietly penetrating decency of this big book is a genuine balm."—Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe

"Alan Bennett is undoubtedly one of the most popular writers of recognized literary merit in England . . . He is, in short, a national treasure, and the popularity of his occasional writings . . . is both a symptom and confirmation of that status . . . Again and again in this book he demonstrates that almost anything that happens to a person can be interesting, moving and entertaining if you write about it well enough."—David Lodge, The New York Review of Books

"It's tempting to see Untold Stories as a comedy in which the hero, after much hardship, finds lasting love and—fingers crossed—health. But that would underplay the sheer (which is not always to say pure) pleasure of so many entries. Whether he's sharing some of his favorite paintings with schoolchildren . . . or taking us through his student rooms (and dreams) at Oxford, Alan Bennett may not be 'a joiner' but he is brilliantly engaged—and engaging."—Kerry Fried, Newsday

"A great achievement and a book of lasting value . . . This is art of no mean order, though subtly concealed . . . It is full of humour, without pomposity or self-dramatisation. Bennett has always been conscious, like Thoreau, that most people lead lives of quiet desperation, but he also sees that they are funny, and he has a matchless talent for making them interesting."—Jane Stevenson, The Observer (London)

"Extraordinary . . . Bennett writes: 'I have never found it easy to belong.' After Untold Stories, I have no hesitation in saying he belongs to all of us. And we're all grateful."—Cal McCrystal, The Independent

"I have never read a book of this length where I have turned the last page with such regret. It is intelligent, educated, engaging, humane, self-aware, cantankerous and irresistibly funny. You want it to go on for ever."—John Carey, The Sunday Times (London)

"[This collection] is told with such honesty that it is heartbreaking and deeply moving . . . Bennett's experience is a reminder that the people we care for, though they may never have made much of a stir in the world, have nevertheless—for us—a value beyond price . . . This piece should be required for all health-care workers, as it is a vivid reminder of what it actually feels like to be a patient and at the mercy of large impersonal forces including the health-care system itself and the fates."—Keith Monroe, Winston-Salem Journal Book Review

Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction by the author

Untold Stories

Written on the Body

Seeing Stars
The Ginnel

Diaries 1996-2004

Theatre and Plays
The Lady in the Van
The National Theatre
The History Boys

Radio and TV
Cheeky Chappies
The Last of the Sun
Thora Hird
Lindsay Anderson

Art, Architecture and Authors
Going to the Pictures
Spoiled for Choice
Portrait or Bust
Making York Minster
Country Arcade, Leeds
A Room of My Own
Denton Welch
England Gone: Philip Larkin
Staring out of the Window

Ups and Downs
A Common Assault
Arise, Sir . . .
An Average Rock Bun


Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett has been one of England's leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His most recent play, The History Boys, won six Tony awards including Best Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, and the Drama League Award. He is the author of The Complete Talking Heads, Writing Home, and The Laying on of Hands, all available in Picador paperback.

Hugo Glendinning

Alan Bennett

Official Links