FAMILY BUSINESS: SAVILIAN PETER J CONRADI FRSL IN CONVERSATION WITH PROFESSOR JON COOK

Peter J. Conradi’s memoir Family Business includes a cast of characters ranging from his exotic European Jewish forebears to Dame Iris Murdoch, whose authorised biography he wrote. The arc of Conradi’s story travels from his warring parents to his public school education, becoming a kibbutznik, taking part in the early years of gay rights and becoming a writer. In the final chapters Conradi explores his long and close relationship with Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley. 

Peter was both Murdoch’s biographer and, for many months during her last two years, her carer. Here he raises questions about what may and may not be written when survivors are still alive to be hurt.  Among other books he has also published Going Buddhist : Panic and Emptiness, the Buddha and me (2004);  a history of the Welsh March, At the Bright Hem of God: Radnorshire Pastoral (2009) and a biography of soldier-poet Frank Thompson, A Very English Hero (2012). 

“I am at a loss for sufficient words: I love this book. The portrait of his parents and his

 relationship with them is a masterpiece. I don’t think this portrait of the nineteenth century  

 Jewish diaspora in England will ever be bettered.” – Carmen Callil. 

“A mingling of charm, comedy, confessional and inevitable tragedy: all beautifully orchestrated.

  I can only congratulate you on a brilliant series of stories” – Michael Holroyd.  

 “Wonderfully bound together by his fluent, elegant style” – Mark Amory

Jon Cook is Emeritus Professor of Literature and Director of the Humanities in India programme at UEA. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including After Sebald, Hazlitt in Love, Poetry in Theory, and Romanticism and Ideology. He has taught at universities in Europe, the United Sates and India. Between 2004-10 he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UEA and from 2008-17 was a member of the Arts Council.