Gaby Wood is Head of Books at the Daily Telegraph. Her first book, THE SMALLEST OF ALL PERSONS MENTIONED IN THE RECORDS OF LITTLENESS, originally appeared in the London Review of Books before being published by Profile Books. LIVING DOLLS: A MAGICAL HISTORY OF THE QUEST FOR ARTIFICIAL LIFE was published by Faber and Knopf to excellent reviews, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US. She is currently working on a 'cultural biography' of the movie star Lana Turner.
Forthcoming publication - SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS: THE TRUE STORY OF A SCREEN GODDESS IN SCANDALAND (UK: Faber, US: Knopf)
On Good Friday 1958 the well-known gangster Johnny Stompanato was found dead in the apartment of his lover, the movie star Lana Turner. By the time the police arrived the apartment was full of people, including Turner's lawyer, agent and publicist. The killing was eventually described as a 'justifiable homicide' by Turner's teenage daughter Cheryl Crane. Turner was more than simply a movie star by then: she was an icon, and one whose own life mirrored those of the dangerous women she played in her movies. Gaby Wood's book will be a 'cultural biography', a placing of the Lana Turner story within the context of what we have come to call 'Hollywood Noir'.
LIVING DOLLS: A MAGICAL HISTORY OF THE QUEST FOR MECHANICAL LIFE
UK: Faber; US: Knopf; Japanese: Seidosha
Ever since Pygmalion fashioned Galatea out of stone, men (and it is usually men, though the author of FRANKENSTEIN was of course a woman) have dreamed of creating artificial or mechanical life. In this fascinating book, Gaby Wood examines the pre-history of what we think of as a very modern idea: the 18th century flute-playing android of Vaucanson; the Automaton Chess Player of von Kempelen; Thomas Edison's creepy mechanical doll; and Melies' late 19th century experiments with moving images. A final chapter inverts the theme: Wood meets the sole survivor of the Doll family, who achieved fame in the 1930s as midgets with the Ringling Brothers Circus and as 'Munchkins' in The Wizard of Oz. LIVING DOLLS is a book about anxiety, ambition, and about what it is we believe makes us human.