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  • Published: 1 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099287568
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

Charlie Chaplin

A fresh look at Chaplin from the masterful Peter Ackroyd

He was the very first icon of the silver screen, and is one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood, even a hundred years on from his first film. But what of the man behind the moustache? The director holding the camera as well as acting in front of it?

Peter Ackroyd's new biography turns the spotlight on Chaplin's life as well as his work, from his humble theatrical beginnings in music halls to winning an honorary Academy Award. Everything is here, from the glamour of his golden age to the murky scandals of the 1940s and eventual exile to Switzerland. This masterful brief life offers fresh revelations about one of the most familiar faces of the last century and brings the Little Tramp into vivid colour.

  • Published: 1 July 2015
  • ISBN: 9780099287568
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Peter Ackroyd

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, Thames: Sacred River and London Under; biographies of figures including Charles Dickens, William Blake, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock; and a multi-volume history of England. 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.

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Praise for Charlie Chaplin

Haunting... Brilliant and unsparing

Simon Callow, Guardian

Compact, engrossing, intelligent

John Carey, Sunday Times

Chaplin's rise makes an enthralling story, and it's one perfectly suited to Peter Ackroyd's prodigious and idiosyncratic talents... Ackroyd acknowledges Chaplin's many human failings, while at the same time giving us a vivid sense of what made the man a genius

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Telegraph

A beautifully judged book, driven by a powerful sense of life’s sadness

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

[A] fine biography… The luxury of a short book about a vast life cannot be overestimated

Susie Boyt, Financial Times

Ackroyd has turned in the best account of Chaplin's formation beneath the teetering chimney stacks of Victorian London, fragrant with the odours of dung, smoke and beer... Ackroyd is just the man to puncture the whoppers with which Chaplin embroidered his past, without being too much of a scold

Tom Shone, New Statesman

Ackroyd brings a novelist's as well as a biographer's eye to the story of a man who "seemed to epitomise the human condition itself, flawed and frail and funny"


Ackroyd digs deeply at the roots of a man who was a century ago the most famous person on the planet... bringing vividly to life the dark Victorian streets of south London

Gerard Henderson, Daily Express

This biography is like the wedge the Little Tramp liberates from beneath a docked ocean liner in Modern Times: it starts a thing of unstoppable momentum


Perceptive and judicious

Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review

Writing at an energetic lick, Peter Ackroyd examines this glittering but tragic life with the cool detachment of a psychiatrist or judge. In his powers of insight, and agility in making his connections, he's second to none

Maggie Fergusson, Intelligent Life

Illuminating and timely... Ackroyd has written a model biography, as crisp and succinct as a Chaplin two-reeler


[Ackroyd] brings his usual colour to a black and white world

Mark Smith, Herald

Ackroyd deserves uncompromising praise... Unputdownable

Illtyd Harrington, Camden New Journal

A concise and balanced portrait

Brendan Daly, Sunday Business Post

An engaging biography that will enrich your subsequent viewings of Charlie Chaplin's films… Will satisfy fans old and new

Dave Lancaster, Cinemas Online

A beautifully written synthesis of the most important elements of Chaplin’s long career and his significance as an international figure… Hopefully this book will bring Charlie Chaplin the wider love and acclaim that he richly deserves

Vanessa Toulmin, BBC History Magazine

Ackroyd's analysis of the Tramp... is brilliant and unsparing... Wonderful stuff

Simon Callow, Guardian

Compelling account of how Chaplin rose from poverty to be one of the most influential figures of the 20th century

Reader’s Digest

Ackroyd brings a sense of Chaplin as a man

Good Book Guide

Ackroyd paints a moving portrait of Chaplin’s final years… But it’s those early scenes of poverty and squalor in Victorian London that linger in the reader’s mind, as they did in Chaplin’s own

David Evans, 5 stars, Independent on Sunday


Martin Townsend, Sunday Express

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