A man of many words.

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Samuel Johnson is best known for his dictionary of the English language but little is known about his background. Plagued by illnesses and poverty he was unable to continue his studies at Oxford but still achieved wealth and fame never forgetting his humble beginnings. Throughout his life he helped others in need. Samuel Johnson: a life by David Oakes fills in the gaps of this fascinating man.

In Hanuman’s hands: a memoir follows the path taken by author Cheeni Rao. Family tradition and expectations meant a life as a celibate priest but he left to pursue higher education. Instead of achieving this goal his life turned into violence and drugs. Read about the slow progress of recovery through rehabilitation in a half-way house. 

The Pilgrimage, The Alchemist and The Devil and Miss Prym are just a few titles of the internationally known author Paulo Coelho. Books are translated into other languages, as well as adaptations for stage, musical and dance theatre, puppetry and even opera. A warrior’s life: a biography of Paulo Coelho by Fernando Morais took many years to research this prolific author and is the first authorised biography.

Enjoy these titles and others including the life of Sofia Tolstoy, Dorothea Lange and Tom Burns in this month’s Biography Recent Picks.