Winnie and Wolf is the story of the extraordinary relationship between Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler that took place during the years 1923-40, as seen through the eyes of the secretary at the Wagner house in Bayreuth.
Winifred, an English girl, brought up in an orphanage in East Grinstead, married at the age of eighteen to the son of Germany's most controversial genius, is a passionate Germanophile, a Wagnerian dreamer, a Teutonic patriot.
In the debacle of the post-Versailles world, the Wagner family hope for the coming, not of a warrior, a fearless Siegfried, but of a Parsifal, a mystic idealist, a redeemer-figure. In 1923, they meet their Parsifal - a wild-eyed Viennese opera-fanatic in a trilby hat, a mac and a badly fitting suit. Hitler has already made a name for himself in some sections of German society through rabble-rousing and street corner speeches. It is Winifred, though, who believes she can really see his poetry. Almost at once they drop formalities and call one another 'Du' rather than 'Sie'. She is Winnie and he is Wolf.
Like Winnie, Hitler was an outsider. Like her, he was haunted by the impossibility of reconciling the pursuit of love and the pursuit of power; the ultimate inevitability, if you pursued power, of destruction. Both had known the humiliations of poverty. Both felt angry and excluded by society. Both found each other in an unusual kinship that expressed itself through a love of opera.
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An extraordinary work whose achievements are almost Wagnerian in scale - Daily Mail
A thoroughly engrossing read... A.N. Wilson offers a plethora of fascinating ideas on politics, philosophy and, above all, the music of Wagner... Winnie and Wolf vividly brings to life a place, a time and an extraordinary family - Mail on Sunday
Deeply clever and gripping... Vividly presented and immaculately researched - Spectator
Winnie and Wolf tells a convincing story; it is an emotionally fraught account of German Kultur at war and peace... A.N. Wilson's art is to create a richly chromatic drama of a Romantic Germany, darkened by the atonal experiments of Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Leverkühn, and the murderous ideas of Wolf - Times Literary Supplement
A bold, ambitious piece of fiction - Guardian
This novel should carry a warning: its appeal will be greatest for fans either of Wagner and European history, or of politics and philosophy - Sunday Times
What Nazism owed to the British Empire fascinates Wilson, and his invention of Hitler's Americanised offspring invites us to relive the macabre history while acknowledging our own uncomfortable complicity in it... Bravely ambitious - Independent
Winnie and Wolf is a novel rich in philosophical reference - Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, thorny as you like - and ruminative pleasures - Evening Standard
Wilson's achievement is startling... Most contemporary English fiction looks rather etiolated and pointless by comparison - Guardian
It would be hard to name a more ambitious recent work of fiction... Wilson brilliantly evokes Wagner's music - Financial Times
Wilson has done his research impeccably and he writes superbly well - Literary Review
A.N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has held a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist, winning prizes for much of his work. He lives in North London.