Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child. Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father's shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century? As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press' portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films. Grace Kelly, Carey Grant and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style, and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds. Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director's chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.
Peter Ackroyd turns his gimlet eye to one of the twentieth century's most revered directors.
"Superb, insightful short life... Deft and moving" -- Bee Wilson The Guardian "Irresistible" -- Louise Jury The Independent "An elegant and hugely enjoyable read" -- Alexander Larman Sunday Express "[A] nutritious, compact and superb critical biography" -- Roger Lewis Daily Mail "Shelves of serious biographies have been written on Alfred Hitchcock, but perhaps none as pleasurable as Peter Ackroyd's" -- Kate Muir The Times
Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning historian, biographer, novelist, poet and broadcaster. He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River as well as biographies of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, William Blake, Wilkie Collins, Thomas More and, most recently, Charlie Chaplin. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.