CDN$ 26.33
  • List Price: CDN$ 28.95
  • You Save: CDN$ 2.62 (9%)
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
The Secret Life of Glenn ... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Secret Life of Glenn Gould: A Genius in Love Hardcover – Apr 1 2010

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 26.33
CDN$ 15.11 CDN$ 14.83

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
click to open popover

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (April 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550229192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550229196
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #440,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description

Quill & Quire

The title of this addition to the lengthening shelf of books about Glenn Gould carries a slight suggestion of tabloid journalism. The suggestion is not altogether misplaced, given this volume’s subject matter. Many of Gould’s contemporaries assumed that the great classical pianist and professional eccentric, who died in 1982, had low sexual energy. For example, to Robert Fulford, his childhood chum, Gould was “a confirmed bachelor at 13.” His friend Howard Engel, the mystery writer, thought most of his relationships to be pragmatic ones based on shared interests, rather than romantic partnerships. In fact, Gould had numerous long affairs with women, most of whom were artists themselves. (Gould’s life was also marked by serious addictions to prescription drugs, a fact some believe hastened his death at 51.)

Frances Batchen, a fellow musician who presided over a multidisciplinary bohemian salon in postwar Toronto, stands out among the women with whom he became involved. She was the first of two women to refuse a marriage proposal from Gould. Her personality comes through vividly in Michael Clarkson’s book, no doubt partly because the author was able to interview her in person, whereas a number of other subjects were available only by phone or e-mail (and one of them remained true to her vow of silence).

Batchen left Canada in 1956 following a romantic overlap with Gladys Shenner, a writer sent by Maclean’s to interview Gould, only to become the next key player in the long melodrama of his private life.

Gould aficionados are likely to find only the smallest crumbs of new information in The Secret Life of Glenn Gould. Clarkson, however, must be given credit for doggedness, clarity of writing, and enthusiasm. The author’s career as a writer of popular books on psychology is much less apparent here than his background as a journalist. (Clarkson won a Pulitzer Prize for interviewing J.D. Salinger – someone even more reclusive than Gould was.)

Clarkson’s prose has patches of freshness but is also peppered with clichés and inaccuracies. He writes: “Toronto the Good was not a rockin’ town in the 1950s, prior to the influx of immigrants and extravagant festivals – it was, as someone once said, New York run by the Swiss.” The “someone” was Sir Peter Ustinov, speaking in the 1980s about the Toronto of a later era than the one Clarkson is referencing.


"Fans of Gould will welcome this addition to the canon, which, despite its limited, voyeuristic ambition, is both revealing and respectful."  —Library Journal

"[Gould’s] many bittersweet sexual affairs, here meticulously revealed and chronicled by Michael Clarkson, make compelling reading. The sensual Mr. Gould's Goldberg variations weren't entirely about Johann Sebastian Bach."  — Peter C. Newman, journalist and bestselling author, Here Be Dragons

"[Clarkson] must be given credit for doggedness, clarity of writing, and enthusiasm."  —Quill & Quire

"Already the subject of more than a dozen books, Gould is even more intriguing as a result of Clarkson's book."  —The National Post

"This book contains fascinating information you cannot easily get anywhere else . . . Gould emerges as more human, and his extraordinary musical achievements become all the more remarkable."  —Winnipeg Free Press

"Clarkson shows himself to be a thoughtful commentator, offering the occasional salacious detail but opting for a decidedly respectful voice when recounting Gould's amorous, often bittersweet liaisons. . . . A fresh and fascinating look at the human side of genius."  —Scene Magazine

"Clarkson is able to draw the reader into the soul of the one of the most eccentric, sensitive and haunted musical geniuses the world has ever produced. This is an amazingly detailed and well researched book that I couldn't put down."  —Liona Boyd, CM, LLD

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e54f960) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e5d49d8) out of 5 stars Who doesn't want to know? July 18 2010
By Stephen Deasy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have read all the major books about, and by, Gould. I own 60 of his recordings. I have been immeasurably enriched by his artistry. I learned to hear music with greater clarity listening to him, and his numerous articles and comments have been highly informative. A fan slowly gathers a good sense of Gould from his writings and videos and the anecdotes of others, in addition to the recordings. I was a bit awestruck with Colm Feore's performance in the film "Thirty Two Short Films" because both director and actor had absorbed the essence of the artist, and portrayed his sensibility in a way I didn't think possible. I think most fans grasped his essential goodness and kindness in addition to his intellect and talent.

Every so often the issue of his sexuality would emerge when reading about him.Sometimes I thought he might have been gay, sometimes asexual, maybe just overall shy and dedicated to his work. No one - including Gould himserlf - ever addressed the issue in print. In this age of over exposure, his reticence about making his life public makes him a saint of the movement against such exploitation. Critics and fans respected his wishes during his lifetime about his privacy.

But 25 years after his death, to finally have someone - the author Clarkson - take on the job of journalist and historian - and actually do some biographical legwork and fill in all sorts of blanks - is something to be grateful for. Our god was human.Who knew?

This is not - and shouldn't be - an introduction to Glenn Gould. Listening to the Goldberg recordings or reading Otto Friedrich's readable bio or Tim Page's "Converstaions with Gould" would be much truer to what "Glenn Gould" means. Who wouldn't want to know who was intimate with Will Shakespeare?

An extra star - it's a solid 3 for me- for the doggedness and shoework of the author.
HASH(0x9e5d4960) out of 5 stars Gould's love life? Be careful what you wish for. April 11 2015
By Marion - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to admit that I had a prurient interest in reading a book which purports to uncover the secret of Glenn Gould's love interests. It seemed to me the last frontier in Gould biography. However, I'm sorry to say that as much as the author tried to pry information from his subjects, the more he failed to uncover anything new. His lapses into cliche and purple prose did not endear me to the author,either. I put down the book feeling that Gould was probably right to protect this side of his life, especially since his relationships with various women seems to illuminate further his famous neuroses. In the future, I'll be content to listen to Gould's magnificent performances of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, et al.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e3dfb34) out of 5 stars The Research Was Intensive But Misplaced Aug. 24 2011
By G.I Gurdjieff - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author really did a thorough job of researching Gould's life and should be commended on his dedication and doggedness when it comes to his work here. His writing is good, but I'm not sure that this aspect of Gould's life should have ever been attempted. In life, Gould notoriously protected his privacy and let the brilliance of his work speak for him.
Now we have a biographer who attempts to prove that not only was Gould not gay nor bisexual nor asexual, he was actually a highly sexual individual who was involved with plenty of women-----sometimes sexually and sometimes psychologically. After reaing this book, I am inclined to say it really doesn't matter. The only thing this book seems to prove is that Gould (who was always involved with his music) was probably not emotionally prepared for a permanent relationship with any woman and showed a certain reluctance to commit to anything but his career. Again, I don't care. I didn't expect Gould to be traditional in any sense and by delving into his somewhat dicey love life it magnifies the fact that he wasn't your average guy. Surprise!
As for his purported love interests, most were reluctant to speak about him and only a few did. This seemed to be a constant. His friends and associates respected his privacy. Maybe the author should have taken their lead and chose not to write about this aspect of his life. By proving Gould was not gay, he really didn't contribute much to the world view and memory of Glenn Gould.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e52736c) out of 5 stars Secret life of Glenn Gould Oct. 6 2012
By Marta E. Lujan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is very well written, accurate in its information, narrated in a lively style, and ending with an interesting epilogue, where the author briefly describes how the women who had relationships with Gould retook their lives after their trysts with the famous pianist ended.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e5d4a50) out of 5 stars Not a lustful Puritan... June 10 2011
By Cruise Berry - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The reviewer, Stephen Deasy, is correct in suggesting that this is not a good introduction to Gould. I would add to that in suggesting that you not read it at all if you'd like to develop and maintain an accurate picture of the inimitable Gould.
No ladies man, but a puritan who's musical inspiration didn't come from women (or men), and who's aversion to most music of the Romantics is also evidenced by an aversion to all things sensual.

The Goldberg recordings (both of them) are excellent aural starting points for the green Gouldian and for the literary the reputable new favorite bio by Kevin Bazzana, the classic Otto Friedrich bio, and The Glenn Gould Reader would make for a library of Gould thought, anecdote, philosophy, and fact that will keep you ever-engrossed with Glenn Gould's life and music making.