Books on a range of arts topics recommended by members.


Book recommendations

This page will keep members informed about books on arts topics, concentrating on items of general interest.  

If you’ve recently read something on the arts that you think would be of interest to members then please let us know, using the form lower down this page. We will use the information you provide to add more book recommendations to this page.

Tony Faber, Faber and Faber: The Untold Story. Faber and Faber, London, 2021.The author's superb lecture on the publishing house inspired me to buy the book. This is proving a magnificent insight into the literary world of the twentieth century including TS Eliot’s role in securing new young poets, such as Ted Hughes, novelists and playwrights, such as Tom Stoppard for Faber and Faber. It is in the form of letters between the writers and the firm as contracts and other things unfold.The book covers are period pieces (this was the ‘art’ part of the lecture) and some are reproduced in the book. The author writes little commentaries on proceedings, giving a personal viewpoint. What a treasure chest the archive there must be! If you enjoyed the lecture, try the book!

Laura Knight, The Magic of a Line, William Kimber & Co, London, 1965. This is the lively autobiography of Dame Laura Knight, RA.  which charts her development as an artist, including her long and very happy marriage with Harold and their travels to learn their craft. The book has some fine line drawings which seem to represent the ‘magic’ of the book’s title. She devotes a chapter to her time in Nuremberg where she was sent by the War Office to record the trial.  

Tristram Hunt, The Radical Potter: Josiah Wedgwood and the Transformation of Britain, Penguin Random House, 2021. A fascinating account of the growth of Josiah Wedgwood’s empire in The Potteries.

Mary Beard, Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern, Princeton University Press, 2022. Mary Beard’s effervescent style makes this book joyous! It draws on her scholarship in the Classics to illuminate how the 12 Caesars have influenced art of all kinds, from statues to paintings, to prints and tapestries, as well as coins. 

Loyd Grossman, An Elephant in Rome, Pallas Athene, 2021. A fascinating and readable book on Baroque Rome, with the emphasis firmly on Bernini and his relationships with the Pope, his sponsor and patron. The illustrations are magnificent. 

Mariella Guzzoni, Vincent's Books, Thames and Hudson, 2021. An engrossing tour of Vincent's favourite authors, exploring the direct links between his art and the authors who inspired him. Lovely hardback edition, £19.95. 

Franny Moyle, The King’s Painter, the Life and Times of Hans Holbein, Head of Zeus Ltd, 2021. We have all seen Holbein’s pictures, and this is a very readable account of his life and work in the Tudor court of Henry VIII.

Stephen Hough, Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More, Faber and Faber, 2019.  A hugely engaging collection of short essays on many aspect of performing classical music written by the great British pianist. 

Suzanne Fagence Cooper, To See Clearly, Why Ruskin Matters, Quercus, 2019. Excellent follow up to our lecture by Suzanne on Ruskin. Very readable. 

Cynthia Saltzman, Napoleon’s Plunder and the Theft of Veronese’s Feast, Thames and Hudson, 2021. Fascinating insight into how the Louvre acquired its art. The Veronese was prize Plunder but is now overlooked as it hangs opposite to the Mona Lisa. A well illustrated book. 

Please use the form below to recommend books on arts subjects that you have enjoyed