"There are three great men of our age, myself, Napoleon and Brummell, but of we three, the greatest of all is Brummell"
Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Dandy was published in 2006 in the UK and USA, the first biography of Brummell in a generation, and the first to deal openly with his position as the most important figure in the history of men’s fashion... and with his enigmatic sex life and descent into madness.
Kelly’s research revealed for the first time Brummell’s original medical records and the reason for his infamous flight from London and from high society.
The biography was Shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Prize and adapted by the BBC as a TV film, the centrepiece of the their Century that Made Us season on the 18th century – starring James Purefoy, Hugh Bonneville, Phil Davies and Ian Kelly.
Its US publication was timed to coincide with the Anglomania Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the premiere of Ron Hutchinson’s Beau Brummell in New York, in which Ian Kelly played the title role.
‘Biography simply as good as it gets’
‘All the wonders of an incomparable age touched on with wit and mastery’
‘A wonderful melange of social history and biography. . . Ian Kelly, in this vibrant, witty and fact-packed book has produced something of a ‘tour de force’ out of what might have appeared a flimsy or frivolous life. The pathos of the later years is almost unbearable, the details of prison life done in a style almost as arresting as the man himself.’
CLAIRE HARMAN, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
‘Ian Kelly’s magisterial, utterly gripping life of George ‘Beau’ Brummell is a parable for modern times. Kelly sets out the arena deftly, with a vivid evocation of Georgian London and elegantly charts the tale of this fashion icon.’
PHILIP HOARE, INDEPENDENT
‘A superlative book...Kelly has produced a thoughtful, absorbing and hugely diverting book. Lushly illustrated, carefully researched and argued, this biography will entertain and enlighten anyone who wants to understand why dandyism, then as today, is a peculiarly English phenomenon.’
GEORGE WALDEN, DAILY MAIL
Sunday Times Culture section lead review: ‘Ian Kelly has written a splendid book about this seminal figure of the early 19th Century. What makes this book much more than just a relaxed, racy biography is the way its author brings to life not just the man but also the time in which he lived.’
COLIN MCDOWELL, THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘Hugely entertaining...The reader will want neither the book, not the intriguing life it recreates, to come to an end.’
MELANIE READ, HERALD
‘This is a finely written and beautifully illustrated book which does credit to the extraordinary life, times and legacy of its subject.’
FRANCES WILSON, LITERARY REVIEW
‘This is the only book you need to read if you want to know the whole truth about Brummell.’ JAMES CHAMBERS, TELEGRAPH
JAMES DELINGPOLE, THE TIMES
‘You really must read Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy.’
THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘If you want to understand modern celebrity read this book. Possibly the best book ever written on Georgian London and indeed quite possibly one of best books ever written on London.’
BOYD HILTON, RADIO 5
‘Ian Kelly captures the sadness and frustration that lay beneath the glamour; his book is elegant and scrupulously researched with an admirable feeling for the age. Most impressively, he undermines the myth that Brummell reserved his passions solely for his wardrobe.’
BEN WILSON, SPECTATOR