Tom Stoppard: A Life by Hermione Lee

There are two narratives nestling against each other in this exceedingly long, conscientious, but overstuffed biography. If you want to read about Sir Tom Stoppard’s ascent to the pinnacle of polite society, you will be able to linger over no end of detail.

On page 434 (which is, I should warn you, only the halfway point) Stoppard’s marriage to the scientist and TV presenter Miriam Stoppard takes another upwardly mobile turn: “In 1986, the family discovered grouse-shooting.” Now it may be true that the moorland pastime later found its way into the script of his metaphysical extravaganza Arcadia, but, here as elsewhere, Hermione Lee tells us more than we need to know.

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