Miracles of Life : Shanghai to Shepperton : an Autobiography, Paperback

Miracles of Life : Shanghai to Shepperton : an Autobiography Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


J. G. Ballard was, for over fifty years, one of this country's most significant writers.

Beginning with the events that inspired his classic novel, 'Empire of the Sun', this revelatory autobiography charts the course of his astonishing life. 'Miracles of Life' takes us from the vibrant surroundings of pre-war Shanghai, to the deprivations and unexpected freedoms of Lunghua Camp, to Ballard's arrival in a devastated Britain.

Ballard recounts his first attempts at fiction and his part in the social and artistic revolutions of the 60s.

He describes his friendships with figures as diverse as Kingsley Amis, Michael Moorcock and Eduardo Paolozzi alongside recollections of his domestic life in Shepperton - raising three children as a single father following the unexpected and premature death of his wife. 'Miracles of Life' is both a captivating narrative of the experiences that have shaped this extraordinary writer's works, his distinctive outlook and his original visions of the future, and is also an account of a remarkable life. This edition is part of a new commemorative series of Ballard's works, featuring introductions from a number of his admirers (including Ali Smith, Hari Kunzru, Neil Gaiman and Martin Amis) and brand-new cover designs.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages, Illustrations, ports.
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Autobiography: literary
  • ISBN: 9780007272341



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Ballard's final book, alas. Quite a bit different than his fictional autobiography, Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women. Some details that stick out in my mind: He was the most radical of the New Wavers but didn't partake of 1960s craziness because he was raising 3 kids as a single dad. He did indeed have a grand old time in the Japanese interment camp, where one of the other kids was future cult TV actor Peter Wyngarde.

Review by

Although, as the title suggests, Miracles of life. Shanghai to Shepperton. An autobiography is the autobiography of J.G. Ballard's whole life, and a large part of the book deals with various, later episodes of his life, the focal point of the book is on his earliest youth. One third of the book is devoted to Ballard's youth, growing up in Shanghai, and a large part of that is devoted to life in the concentration camp created by the Japanese occupation forces during the Second World War. This traumatic experience is described together with other traumatic events observed by the author at a young age, such as atrocities commited by Japanese soldiers in China. Together with the apparently random fate of people, and properties, these experiences may form the basis for Ballard's authorship. One such baffling experience is the young Ballard's walk from the liberated concentration camp to his former family home. On the way he witnesses how Japanese soldiers torture and murder a Chinese peasant. Arriving in his street he finds that the home of a neighbouring youth friends has been completely destroyed, however, his own family home has been completely preserved, so he can walk in, lie on his old bed and, as it were, walk from the horror of the day into the space-an-time capsule of his "untouched" bedroom of nearly two years before. An experience of miraculous proportions.Although the short book, of about 300 pages deals with subsequent years and the author's life during the 1960s and 70s, the focus remains on the original influence of his life in China. The final chapter and photos document the author's recent visit to China, discovering what has become of the places he grew up.With nearly 100 pages devoted to his youth growing up in pre-war and war-time Shanghai, Miracles of life. Shanghai to Shepperton. An autobiography is not only an autobiographical document about the author's life, but also an historical source about the modern history of China, and Shanghai in particular.

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