Or, rather, what do you imagine to be your earliest memory?
Perhaps, alternatively, there was a moment during childhood when the world’s axis shifted? A transformative realisation, epiphany or experience that changed the course of your life: your very own ‘sense of a beginning’…
In My First Memory, bestselling anthologist Ben Holden explores these touchstones via the watershed experiences of some of the greatest figures of our age. Along the way, he lightly explores how memory and childhood merge to form identity. How, in the process, we not only create individual origin-stories but also, on a broader level, fashion human history.
The first memories of iconic figures – from Machiavelli to Freud, Einstein to Hawking, Churchill to Luther King, Pankhurst to Angelou, Pavarotti to Springsteen, and Pelé to Bolt – combine with exclusive, personal pieces by some of today’s greatest writers, scientists and thinkers: the likes of Sebastian Barry, Melvyn Bragg, David Eagleman, Susan Greenfield, Tessa Hadley, Javier Marías, Michael Morpurgo and the late Ursula K Le Guin.
The trip down memory lane is heightened by the remembrances of refugees: from heroic figures such as Madeleine Albright, Isabel Allende, Alf Dubs, Yusra Mardini, Elie Wiesel and Stefan Zweig to lesser-known but no less courageous voices. Many of these moving accounts tell of children being forced to leave home and family behind forever. They may have grown up to lead inspirational lives – but none ever forgot from whence they came.
After all, each of us must start somewhere and – as this timeless collection unforgettably proves – there is always a first time for everything.
Praise for Poems That Make Grown Men Cry:
'Everyone who reads this collection will be roused: disturbed by the pain, exalted in the zest for joy given by poets' Observer
'That's the great thing about a good anthology of poems: you are reminded of old friends and introduced to new ones... This is a welcome addition to my shelves' Sunday Telegraph
'A fascinating anthology. Finding out what makes particular men emotional is intriguing' Irish Independent
'The title is pure genius... what I love most is the proud grasp of emotion as mature and manly. Two words that become magnificent in their juxtaposition: "men" and "cry"' Daily Mail
'This is a really thought-provoking book...The range of contributors leads to a wonderful range of verse. And the overall result is a wonderfully powerful and moving experience' The Times
Ben Holden is a writer and film producer. He lives in London and studied English at Merton College, Oxford. With his father Anthony, Ben edited the bestselling Poems That Make Grown Men Cry and Poems That Make Grown Women Cry.
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