The Richard Burton Diaries
The Richard Burton Diaries
Yale University Press, Paperback, 9780300197280, 704pp.
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
This volume publishes Burton's extensive personal diaries in their entirety for the first time. His writings encompass many years from 1939, when he was still a teenager, to 1983, the year before his death and they reveal him in his most private moments, pondering his triumphs and demons, his loves and his heartbreaks. The diary entries appear in their original sequence, with annotations to clarify people, places, books, and events Burton mentions.
From these hand-written pages emerges a multi-dimensional man, no mere flashy celebrity. While Burton touched shoulders with shining lights among them Olivia de Havilland, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, Laurence Olivier, John Huston, Dylan Thomas, and Edward Albee he also played the real-life roles of supportive family man, father, husband, and highly intelligent observer. His diaries offer a rare and fresh perspective on his own life and career, and on the glamorous decades of the mid-twentieth century.
"Come to this volume for the love story, stay for the lit talk. . . .Burton’s diaries, published now for the first time, are filled with . . . pocket-size delights. . . But I admired this complicated and fairly remarkable book for its deeper and more insinuating qualities as well.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"The Richard Burton Diaries. Just great fun, and written out of an engaging, often comical bewilderment: How did a poor Welshman become not only a star, but a player on the world stage that was Elizabeth Taylor’s fame? As a kind of celebrity Pilgrim’s Progress, it is very tender without missing the fact that show business is hard."—Hilton Als, NewYorker.com
“Of real interest is that Burton was almost as good a writer as an actor, read as many as three books a day, haunted bookstores in every city he set foot in, bought countless books on every conceivable subject and evaluated them rather shrewdly. . . Apt writing abounds. . . His love of language is also displayed dazzlingly in the recurrent loving tributes to Elizabeth. True, he also records their fights, but these are quickly forgotten by him after a good walk, and by both of them after a night’s sleep. Much more frequent and pertinent are the love declarations.” —John Simon, The New York Times Book Review
“The Richard Burton who emerges from these diaries is a far better man than even his wildest fan might have expected. He’s so sensitive, intelligent, deeply well-read and supremely well-informed that you can almost kid yourself he’d have been fun to have to dinner. It would be absurd, of course, to call his a model life. But nobody who has read this book could call it a wasted one.” —Christopher Bray, The Wall Street Journal
“These diaries offer a delightfully unvarnished glimpse at the actor's life, from his reading habits and jet-setting to his tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth Taylor.” —The Los Angeles Times