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Sir Michael De Courcy Fraser Holroyd, CBE (born August 27, 1935), is an Englishmarker biographer.


Michael Holroyd was born in Londonmarker and educated at Eton Collegemarker, though he has often claimed Maidenhead Public Library as his alma mater.

In 1964 he published his first book, a biography of writer Hugh Kingsmill, but his reputation was consolidated in 1967-68 with the publication of his life of Lytton Strachey (which playwright Christopher Hampton later used extensively when writing the screenplay for the film Carrington). Holroyd has also written biographies of Augustus John and a four-volume biography of George Bernard Shaw.

Holroyd acted as Chairman of the Society of Authors, 1973-83, and from 1985 to 1988 was president of the English branch of PEN. His awards include the 2001 Heywood Hill Literary Prize and the 2005 David Cohen Prize for literature. Holroyd is also President of the Royal Society of Literature and was knighted in the 2007 New Years' Honours List.

His latest book, A Strange Eventful History (2008), recounts the 19th-century theatrical careers of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving.

Holroyd is a Patron of Dignity in Dying.

He is married to author Dame Margaret Drabble.


  • Hugh Kingsmill: A Critical Biography, Unicorn Press, 1964
  • Lytton Strachey: A Critical Biography, volume 1: The Unknown Years (1880-1910), Heinemann, 1967
  • Lytton Strachey: A Critical Biography, volume 2: The Years of Achievement (1910-1932), Heinemann, 1968
  • A Dog's Life, Henry Holt (US only), 1969
  • The Best of Hugh Kingsmill: Selections from his Writings (editor), Gollancz, 1970
  • Lytton Strachey by Himself: A Self-Portrait (editor), Heinemann, 1971
  • Unreceived Opinions, Heinemann, 1973
  • Augustus John: A Biography, volume 1: The Years of Innocence, Heinemann, 1974
  • The Art of Augustus John (with Malcolm Easton), Secker & Warburg, 1974
  • Augustus John: A Biography, volume 2: The Years of Experience, Heinemann, 1975
  • The Genius of Shaw: A Symposium (editor), Hodder & Stoughton, 1979
  • The Shorter Strachey (editor with Paul Levy), Oxford University Press, 1980
  • William Gerhardie: God's Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age: 1890-1940 (editor with Robert Skidelsky), Hodder & Stoughton, 1981
  • Essays by Divers Hands, (editor), Boydell Press, 1982
  • Peterley Harvest: The Private Diary of David Peterley (introduction), Secker & Warburg, 1985
  • Bernard Shaw, volume 1: 1856-1898: The Search for Love, Chatto & Windus, 1988
  • Bernard Shaw, volume 2: 1898-1918: The Pursuit of Power, Chatto & Windus, 1989
  • Bernard Shaw, volume 3: 1918-1950: The Lure of Fantasy, Chatto & Windus, 1991
  • Bernard Shaw, volume 4: 1950-1991: The Last Laugh, Chatto & Windus, 1992
  • The Shaw Companion, Chatto & Windus, 1992
  • Lytton Strachey: The New Biography, Chatto & Windus, 1994
  • Augustus John: The New Biography, Chatto & Windus, 1996
  • Bernard Shaw (one-volume revised edition), Chatto & Windus, 1997
  • Basil Street Blues, Little, Brown, 1999
  • The Whispering Gallery: Leaves from a Diplomat's Diary by Hesketh Pearson, (introduction), Phoenix Press, 2000
  • Works on Paper: The Craft of Biography and Autobiography, Little, Brown, 2002
  • Swedish Reflections: From Beowulf to Bergman (preface), Arcadia Books, 2003
  • Mosiac, Little, Brown, 2004
  • A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families, Chatto & Windus, 2008


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