A new biography of Stephen Sondheim delves further into the famously private man's personal life than any previous book on the renowned musical composer. Stephen Sondheim, A Life, released June 14 by Knopf, is by Meryle Secrest and was written with Sondheim's cooperation.
Through interviews with friends, family, colleagues and lovers, Secrest examines little-known aspects of Sondheim's life, such as his parents' early divorce, his years in private and military school, and his unsuccessful stab at screenwriting. (He accompanied John Huston and Humphrey Bogart on the Rome set of Beat the Devil.)
Knopf spokesperson Sophie Catrell said that the composer openly discusses his homosexuality in the new book. Conversely, a surprising chapter concerns a supposed mutual love between Sondheim and Anyone Can Whistle star Lee Remick. Secrest furthermore dissects Sondheim's relationships with such artistic titans as Oscar Hammerstein II, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Robbins and Zero Mostel.
An advance copy of the book supplied to Playbill On-Line delves into Sondheim's tortured relationship with his mother, his experimentation with drugs, his close relationships with many women, and his final discovery of true love in 1993, which led, in part, to his writing Passion. Secrest, who was born in Bath, England, is a seasoned biographer who tends to gravitate toward the giants in a variety of fields. In the past, she has written on Bernstein, Salvador Dali, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Sondheim volume is 448 pages, including 95 photographs.