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The Men In My Life

From Patricia Bosworth – acclaimed biographer of Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, Marlon Brando, and Jane Fonda – comes a series of vivid confessions about her remarkable journey into womanhood. This deeply-felt memoir is the story of a woman who defied repressive 1950s conventions while being shaped by the notable men in her life.

Born into privilege in San Francisco as the children of famous attorney Bartley Crum and novelist Gertrude, Patricia and her brother Bart Jr. lead charmed lives until their father’s career is ruined when he defends the Hollywood Ten. The family moves to New York, suffering greater tragedy when Bart Jr. kills himself. However, his loving spirit continues to influence Patricia as she fights to succeed as an actress and writer.

Married and divorced from an abusive husband before she’s twenty, she joins the famed Actors Studio. She takes classes with Lee Strasberg alongside Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and others; she works on Broadway opposite Paul Muni, Helen Hayes, and Elaine Stritch; Gore Vidal and Elia Kazan become her mentors. Her anecdotes of theatre’s Golden Age have never been told before. At the zenith of her career, about to film The Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn, Patricia faces a decision that changes her forever.

The Men in My Life is about survival, achieving your goals, and learning to love. It’s also the story of America’s most culturally pivotal era, told through the lens of one insider’s extraordinary life.


Advance praise

"'You won't be able to do it for a while, maybe not for a long time,' Gore Vidal warned the young Patricia Bosworth, suggesting she write a memoir of her charmed, tragic early years. He was right. She now has and it's a stunner. A searing, suspenseful meditation on acting being, and the distance in between. not every inner life can hold its own against the behind-the-scenes drama at the Actors Studio; Bosworth's steals the show." - Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra and The Witches: Salem, 1692

"A fascinating story, brought to life with vivid scenes, keen psychological insights and thumbnail sketches of the famous and lesser known, this page-turning self-portrait of a beautiful, unfinished young woman on the bumpy road to maturity will spark shocks of recognition in readers everywhere. We are also treated to a nuanced cultural history of America in these times and the shifting gender expectations that occurred along the way." - Phillip Lopate, critic and author of To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

"What an emotional and remarkable journey! Bosworth is a dazzling writer—I came under her spell years ago when I read her biographies. Now, in her new book, Patricia has reached into the depths of her adventurous, sometimes terrifying life, to tell us a story that could not be fiction—too sad, too wildly happy at times, and in every way challenging. Bosworth tells us how it is live a life of creativity and beauty when the hard times come, and when the good times roll. She has lived through both and come up shining and brilliant. Read this book! I loved it!” - Judy Collins, author of Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

"I couldn’t stop reading this book. It’s terrific. There are fascinating characters throughout, and so much glamour and excitement, but also loss and tragedy. That unsettling combination fuels Patricia Bosworth’s amazing story." - Gay Talese, author of High Notes

"With stunning candor and insight, Bosworth brings to life the remarkable individuals who shaped her struggle between artistry and stability, partnership and freedom, family and self. From tea with Audrey Hepburn to campaigning for Jack Kennedy, The Men in My Life is a front row seat to the dazzling glamour of a defining age that would open up the world for every woman who dared to want it all." - Kirkus Review

“Honesty in writing is rare and precious. In telling us the previously untold story of her extraordinary life, Patricia Bosworth has added an important testament to the history of women. I read this book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face." - Erica Jong, author of Fear of Dying

“Graced with a talent for delving into the truths of creative lives, Patricia Bosworth has now taken the truth serum herself. The result is a powerful, gutsy, tender, and mesmerizing memoir, wherein Bosworth bravely restores her romantic past to the jagged intensity of the present tense.” - Brad Gooch, author of Smash Cut: A Memoir of Howard & Art & The 70s and the 80s

“Patricia Bosworth, one of our most accomplished biographers, has led a life that few could survive, including the suicides of her brother and father; an acting career marked by exhilarating highs and crushing lows; an abusive first husband, and many other heart-pounding and -destroying events recounted in this utterly absorbing memoir. Through it all, Bosworth remains ebullient, self-aware, even funny, and without dissembling. This is who she is, a bright spirit in love with life, whatever it throws at her.” - James Atlas, author of My Life in the Middle Ages

"In The Men in My Life Patricia Bosworth, who has given us such fine biographies of Montgomery Clift, Diane Arbus, and Jane Fonda, turns her lens on her own 20-something self, and on the men—and women—she encountered during those extraordinary years. The result is a moving, revealing, unsparing and enthralling book." - Amanda Vaill, author of Hotel Florida and Everybody Was So Young 

“As memoirs go, this one is TOPS. Vivid, beautifully written, evocative and SO refreshingly frank about sex.” - Andre Bishop, Artistic Director of Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre

"In this moving follow-up to her 1997 memoir, Anything Your Little Heart Desires, Bosworth comes into her own as a memoirist. The earlier book focused on her father, Bartley Crum, best known as a left-wing lawyer who’d represented the Hollywood 10. In this one, Bosworth (Montgomery Clift; Diane Arbus) retraces some of the same material, condensing her father’s political life and her parents’ personal struggles with absence, alcoholism, and adultery before expanding her own coming of age as an actress and, eventually, as a writer. Perhaps inevitably, many of her decisions were colored by her dysfunctional upbringing: her disastrous marriage in 1952 (she was 19) to an abusive wannabe artist was a thinly veiled escape. Her relationship with Joseph 'Pepi' Schildkraut, a married actor her father’s age, came just as her father was institutionalized for substance abuse. Her abortion as she was about to film A Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn unleashed a torrent of suppressed Catholic guilt. The men who haunt Bosworth’s raw narrative are her beloved brother, Bart Jr., who killed himself when he was 18, and her father, who killed himself six years later. In the end, Bosworth has no firm answers. They were prey, as she was, to “the ambivalent nature of choices between career and family, between romance and responsibility, between recklessness and restraint.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Looking back to her rampaging twenties, Bosworth chronicles how she repressed her grief and guilt, recklessly threw herself into harrowing situations, and embraced exhilarating opportunities, all of which she describes with stunning immediacy and valiant candor…. Lush with tales of Lee Strasberg, Marilyn Monroe, Gore Vidal, Elaine Stritch, Audrey Hepburn, and many more, and spiked with arresting observations about glamour and about toxic sexism and homophobia, Bosworth’s riveting memoir brings the covertly wild 1950s into startlingly close focus.” - Booklist, starred review.

"Although Patricia Bosworth’s new memoir is set in the 1950s, it is urgent and essential reading, especially for young women." - L.A. Times

"[Patricia Bosworth's] life was a dramatic saga of ambition, sex, love, affairs, heartbreak and abortion. She courageously reveals it all in The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan." - Wall Street Journal