Married; wife's name Robyn; children: two daughters.
Home—Somerset, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 19 Union Square W, New York, NY 10003.
Worked for fifteen years as a book publisher; writes and reviews books for newspapers and magazines in Britain, Ireland, and the United States.
Shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award, 2001, for Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson; National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, 2001, for Boswell's Presumptuous Task.
(Selector and editor) The World's Most Incredible Stories: The Best of Fortean Times, foreword by Lyall Watson, illustrations by Hunt Emerson, Avon (New York, NY), 1992.
A. J. P. Taylor: A Biography, Sinclair-Stevenson (London, England), 1994.
Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (New York, NY), 2001.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A book about the friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge.
In A. J. P. Taylor: A Biography, Adam Sisman provides a look into the life and thoughts of the well-known historian. Taylor was a popular lecturer at Oxford University who also shared his views in periodicals, newspapers, and on television. In his personal life Taylor was known to be self-confident, selfish, vain, and sometimes mean. New Statesman contributor Piers Brendon noted, "This is a superb literary debut. It is based on wide research and written with rare elegance." An Economist contributor wrote, "Comprehensive and impeccably researched, this biography is beautifully crafted."
Sisman provides a biography of James Boswell in Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson. In 1791 James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson was published and it immediately became a best seller. It is now thought of as the greatest biography ever written. At that time people who knew Boswell were shocked that such a man could write such a great biography, as Boswell was known mostly for his drinking and love of prostitutes, not for his writing. In Boswell's Presumptuous Task, Sisman provides a glimpse into Boswell's life and his odd friendship with Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous writer, whom he met in London in 1763. BookPage contributor Roger Bishop commented, "Bringing the story behind the making of a masterpiece vividly to life, Boswell's Presumptuous Task offers a unique perspective on one of the classics of English literature." Booklist contributor Ray Olson claimed, "Writing with immense assurance and suavity, Sisman has fashioned his own work of art in telling the story of Boswell's."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, September, 2001, Miranda Seymour, "Bozzy's Life."
Book, July, 2001, Ted Waitt, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson, p. 74.
Booklist, July, 2001, Ray Olson, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, p. 1971.
Economist, February 19, 1994, review of A. J. P. Taylor: A Biography, p. 103; October 28, 2000, "Writers' Lives (3)-Samuel's Friend," p. 83.
History Today, May, 1994, Max Beloff, review of A. J. P. Taylor, p. 56A.
Library Journal, June 15, 2001, Robert C. Jones, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, p. 82.
London Review of Books, January 27, 1994, Peter Clarke, "Having It Both Ways," p. 3.
New Criterion, March, 2001, John Derbyshire, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, p. 61.
New Statesman, January 21, 1994, Piers Brendon, review of A. J. P. Taylor, p. 37A; November 20, 2000, Lucy Moore, "Life Studies," p. 53.
New York Times, August 19, 2001, Charles McGrath, "The First Real Biographer".
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 26, 2001, Roger K. Miller, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task.
Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2001, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task, p. 70.
Skeptical Inquirer, January-February, 1999, Joe Nickell, review of The World's Most Incredible Stories: The Best of Fortean Times, p. 53.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (April 21, 2002), Roger Bishop, review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task.
Good Reports,http://www.goodreports.net/ (April 21, 2002), review of Boswell's Presumptuous Task.
Penguin Putnam,http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (May 9, 2003), "Reading Guides: Boswell's Presumptuous Task," and "An Interview with Adam Sisman."
Whitbread Awards,http://www.whitbread-bookawards.co.uk/ (May 9, 2003), "Adam Sisman, Writer."*