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Wainewright the Poisoner: The Confessions of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright
Andrew Motion brings all his lyricism and inventiveness to bear in this fictional autobiography of the great swindler, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. A painter, writer, and friend of Blake, Byron, and Keats, Wainewright was almost certainly a murderer. When he died in a penal colony in Tasmania, he left behind fragments of documents and a beguiling legend...
Andrew Motion brings all his lyricism and inventiveness to bear in this fictional autobiography of the great swindler, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. A painter, writer, and friend of Blake, Byron, and Keats, Wainewright was almost certainly a murderer. When he died in a penal colony in Tasmania, he left behind fragments of documents and a beguiling legend which Motion uses to create an imagined confession laced with facts, telling the story as no straightforward history could."Thomas Griffiths Wainewright is a dream subject for either novelist or biographer. . . . Andrew Motion, Britain's poet laureate, clearly felt that neither straight biography nor pure fiction would do Wainewright's complexities justice, and so he combined the two genres. The result is stunning. The central voice is that of Wainewright himself, reflecting back on his life. After each chapter Mr. Motion has added detailed notes that inform and flesh out the narrative, giving not only his own informed opinion of Wainewright's actions but also those of Wainewright's contemporaries and the scholars and writers who have studied him over the past two centuries."—Lucy Moore, Washington Times"Brilliantly innovative, gripping, intricately researched, Motion's biography does justice to its subject at last."—John Carey, The Sunday Times"Engaging and convincing. . . . The trajectory of this character-from neglected and resentful child to arrogant and envious London dandy to sociopathic murderer on to an enfeebled, frightened prisoner-is indelibly imagined and drawn."—Edmund White, Financial Times"[A] fascinating look at an evil artist, a charmer still having his way with us. We can hear him being economical with the truth, telling us and himself just what he wants to hear."—Michael Olmert, New Jersey Star Ledger"Motion crafts a fascinating tale as complex and compelling as if Wainewright himself had written it."—Michael Spinella, Booklist"Did he kill his servant, and possibly others as well? . . . The footnotes seem to say yes, but Wainewright adamantly argues his own case. Motion's prose is flawless, and Wainewright's voice is convincing. But in the long run, it's this ambiguity that makes Wainewright the Poisoner a fascinating and memorable read."—R.V. Schelde, Sacramento News and Review"Who could as for a better Romantic villain than Thomas Griffiths Wainewright? . . . [The book] succeeds on many levels: as an act of ventriloquism, a work of scholarship, a psychological study, as a set of sharp portraits of famous men and an engrossing read. . . ."—Polly Shulman, Newsday"Instead of a straightforward biography, Andrew Motion gives us Wainewright's first person, fictionalized "confession."—a document as circumspect, slyly reticent, and oeaginously smooth as the man himself. Splendid."—John Banville, Literary Review"A genuine tour de force, and on a non-fictional level, a telling portrait of a strange, intriguing and repellant man."—Brian Fallon, Irish Times"A marvelous literary hybrid that totters with one foot in the world of nonfiction, the other in the land of make-believe. One is alternatively swept up in Motion's dizzy imaginative pastiche, or sent crashing into a dusty stack of scholarly cogitations. . . ."—Philadelphia Inquirer"As true a portrait of a liar as its subject could wish. Rich and strange. . . ."—Glasgow Herald
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