Review The Times Lives Less Ordinary by Nigel Farndale

Title: The Times Lives Less Ordinary

Author: Nigel Farndale and Times Books

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Collins Reference

The Blurb

Discover the lives of some of the most fascinating and unconventional characters of recent times, with 80 obituaries carefully curated from The Times archive. Be they dons, pop stars, vicars, MPs, rugby players or aristocrats, each has marched to the beat of their own drum and led a life far from ordinary.

The Times obituaries have given readers throughout the world an instant picture of a life for more than 150 years. Meet the mavericks, rogues and eccentrics from recent history, including:

  • Baroness Trumpington, the codebreaking, chainsmoking, two-finger-flicking grande dame of British politics
  • ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas, inventor who was the Beatles’ ‘scientific guru’
  • Zsa Zsa Gábor, Hungarian socialite and actress who made a success out of celebrity and was best known for having married nine times
  • John Lucas, influential philosopher who argued against determinism and had a reputation for being the most eccentric don in Oxford
  • Brigadier Jack Thomas, military police commander who survived a landmine, bullet, rhino and faulty parachute and liked to watch TV with an owl on his head
  • April Ashley, model, socialite and transgender rights campaigner whose reassignment surgery was part of a rollercoaster life of lovers and high drama
  • Jordan Mooney, punk muse known as ‘the original Sex Pistol’ who appeared on stage with them, guided their ‘look’ and then became a veterinary nurse

Authoritative, insightful and endlessly engaging, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in the eccentrics and unique characters of recent times.

The Review

What a delightful collection of obituaries celebrating the lives of some really fascinating people.

Now I know it probably seems macabre reading obituaries but the collection found in The Times Lives Less Ordinary are absolutely brilliant. They really do look at the achievements and the curiosities of some creative characters throughout recent history.

This is a chunkster of a book though and I would class it more as a palette cleanser. Read it sparingly and in between other reads but it is a jolly good book.

The Times Lives Less Ordinary by Nigel Farndale is available now.

For more information regarding Nigel Farndale (@nigelfarndale) please visit

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