Alfred Hitchcock

Peter Ackroyd

Financial Times Recommended Summer Read

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child. Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father’s shop. Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe. So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century?

As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press’s portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out. In this quick-witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something more: a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once-used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life. Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films. Grace Kelly, Carey Grant and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style, and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real-life fearsome flock of birds.

Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director’s chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot.

‘The psychology that drove cinema’s master of suspense is unravelled in this insightful biography.’ The Guardian

‘An elegant and hugely enjoyable read’ The Express

‘If there is any writer capable of imaginative sympathy with Hitchcock, it is Ackroyd. Both were brought up in strict Catholic households in lower-middle-class London and both were boys in whom there was a contradictory mix of shyness and ambition. Both developed an insatiable appetite for work. Both publicly declared themselves celibate. Hitchcock made some of his finest films late in his life; Ackroyd, at 65, seems to be gaining momentum.’ The Telegraph

‘A brilliant new book by Peter Ackroyd gets to the heart of Alfred Hitchcock’s cruelly controlling relationships with his leading ladies…’ Daily Mail

‘Peter Ackroyd’s new biography illuminates the dark truths behind Alfred Hitchcock’s prolific film-making… A witty study of the films themselves as much as their enigmatic film-maker… in a marketplace crowded with stodgy and under-edited biographies, this is an elegantly spare and hugely readable book – which sends you straight back to the films.’ GQ Magazine

‘A smart, fluent overview of the director’s life and art, and the mysterious dynamic between the two.’ The New York Times

‘A masterful book on the Master of Suspense: like all good movies, it’s over too soon.’ The Seattle Times

‘A character portrait . . . guided by a novelist’s skills of characterization and texture.’ The New York Times Book Review

‘Ackroyd masters the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock.’ Vanity Fair

‘Irresistible.’ The Independent

‘As packed with anecdotes as an after-dinner speech. Everyone, it seems, had a story about Hitch, most of them ghoulish.’ Newsweek

‘Well written . . . and unusually well attuned to the religious element [of Hitchcock’s movies].’ Financial Times

‘A vigorous and immensely readable study of a consummate film craftsman.’ Publishers Weekly


  • Chatto & Windus UK
  • Nan A Talese Books USA
  • Querido Netherlands
  • Zysk Poland
  • Azbooka-Atticus Russia
  • Ginkgo (Shanghai) Book Co China (simplified)
  • Alfa Turkey

Material: finished copies (280pp)