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Wry, perceptive and very funny, an elegy to the glamour of the car from the celebrated biographer

Michael Holroyd confronts an army of automobiles in this book. Weaving together memoir and historical anecdote, he traces his relationship with cars through a lifetime of biography.
Learning to drive was no easy matter for Michael: the lessons required military precision when practising how to get in and out of his car correctly. His biographical subjects also had their difficulties: Bernard Shaw drove with reckless gusto when overtaking his eightieth year; Vita Sackville-West’s car became a chamber for sudden romantic assignations and getaways; while Augustus John and his family careered through vulnerable villages as the poor vehicle, piled high with bohemian friends, stuttered and jerked along in first gear.
Wry, thoughtful and very funny, On Wheels is an elegy to the glamour of the car. Subtle and perceptive, Michael Holroyd finds surprising ways to understand the past and challenge our view of the future.

Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    November 15, 2012

    Chatto & Windus

    128 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
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    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    November 1, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    128 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
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    • eBooks
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Michael Holroyd

A Book of Secrets
Basil Street Blues and Mosaic
A Strange Eventful History
Bernard Shaw
Augustus John
Lytton Strachey


Lean In
A Life Underwater
Rising Strong
The Man Who Climbs Trees
Yassmin's Story
The Invention of Angela Carter
The Light Between Us
Carry Me Home
For the Love of Horses
The Hare With Amber Eyes
Bernard Shaw
Sam and Chester
Daisy’s Gift
Lethal Force
Until We Are Free