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200 × 130 × 14 mm
208 pages
31 illustrations
01 Oct 2011
Critical Lives
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Derek Jarman Michael Charlesworth

Derek Jarman (1942-1994) is most often remembered as one of Europe’s most innovative independent film-makers, whose films called into question and re-ordered the nature of film-making itself. But he was also a painter, writer and poet, gardener, set designer for other people’s films, ballet, opera and theatre, and influential campaigner for gay rights and other causes. He was also the author of an extraordinary series of journals that offer invaluable insight not only into the nature of the society in which he lived but also into his own creative process. It is remarkable that his art was not confined to one or two of these activities but embraced all of them.

This new biography of Jarman discusses the entire range of his works and provides a picture of the whole man, from childhood to his untimely death in 1994. For the first time it properly integrates his paintings and writings with his film, demonstrating the strong connections between his varied areas of artistic production. Author Michael Charlesworth employs and assesses film criticism, art history, garden and nature writing, critical analysis of poetry and the personal opinions of Jarman and his friends. He also shows how Jarman was an invaluable voice for a larger range of people: one who espoused love, friendship and art; one who fearlessly pushed forward intellectual virtues and the value of art in an often hostile and unappreciative political and social atmosphere.

Fresh in its conclusions, engaging in style, Derek Jarman is accessible, thought-provoking, radical in its arguments and its tracing of the patterns of Jarman’s phenomenal creativity. An invaluable complement to Jarman’s works, this book will interest all Jarman fans as well as readers interested in the history of film, the arts and modern British history and culture.

‘Charlesworth tells Jarman's story well in this commendably brief book.’ — Observer

‘an admirably concise but comprehensive overview of the life and work of a truly prodigious creative spirit.’ — The Gay and Lesbian Review

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Michael Charlesworth is Professor of Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Gothic Revival (2002) and Landscape and Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain and France (2008). He is also the editor of The English Garden (1993).


1. The View from Dungeness
2. Schoolboy and Student
3. Designing for Others, Painting, Super-8
4. The Feature Films of the 1970s
5. Painting, Writing, Pop Promos
6. 8 Millimetre versus 35 Millimetre
7. 1986 and After
8. Filming Plays, Painting Words, Being Ill
9. In the End, the Poet

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements