When a book called Angela's Ashes arrived on Mrs. Kenny’s desk a few years ago, she took a copy home. The following day, when she asked that we check with the major Irish book wholesalers as to how many copies they were carrying, the wholesalers asked "Why? It's only an autobiography of some guy from Limerick we've never heard of." The rest, as they say, is history.
Biographies of historical figures, great men and women, will always be written and will always sell. Their prevalence increases around anniversaries of major events: 150 years since the first battle of the American Civil War , the 65th anniversary of Victory Day, 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic.
The literary, social and political history of Ireland lends itself to some great personal stories, and Kennys has hundreds of volumes of Irish biography. The stars of popular television and music have become prolific authors in recent years perhaps most famously Katie Price who had produced four autobiographies by the age of 32. Sports biographies are also popular, and make excellent gifts. Occasionally, the validity of the story and the author’s use of artistic license cause a huge controversy, such as James Frey’s Million Little Pieces which famously angered Oprah in 2006.
Biography, memoir, personal confession and autobiography… Movie star, literary star, sports star, rock and roll star… Personal hero, local hero, national hero, war hero: this genre really does have something for everyone! Submerging yourself in someone else’s successes and failures may just be the perfect form of escape.