“Billy Connolly” by Pamela Stephenson | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 5/5 stars | Genre – Biography / Non-Fiction

Here we are once again with another non-fiction book! I think I’m starting to come round to reading more biographies/autobiographies, I just have to make more of an effort to read about the people that I already have an interest in, it makes it much easier to invest in those stories.

Anywho, I came across this books through my future mother-in-law. Recently, she has been going through her Mother’s home and came across a number of books. Knowing I enjoy reading she sent me a few; one of which was the David Jason autobiography (reviewed here), and then this one about Billy Connolly. I started reading it over Christmas and have now come to finish it, so here is what I thought…

This genre-defining book is now re-released for a new generation of comedy fans, with a stunning package and a new Foreword from the author. Pamela’s vision of Billy is as true now as it ever was – as groundbreaking, as moving and as laugh-out-loud funny – and here she brings the book fully into its context, as one of the most influential biographies ever written. (synopsis from Goodreads)

What did I think?

It has been said many times that I’m not the biggest fan of reading non-fiction books, especially books that are about famous people. No matter who they are, I just never find myself invested in their story. This was definitely not the case for the life of Billy Connolly.

From the get go I found myself immersed in his tragic, dramatic, and down-right hilarious life, as told from the perspective of his loving wife. Much like the man himself, Pamela Stephensen also had a life in comedy, making the story about one of the most popular British comedians, seamlessly funny. Dark and tortured stories are inter-woven with hilarious annecdotes about their lives together, making sense of the eccentricities of a Scotsman who took the world by storm.

Honestly, I feel like I could write a whole book just raving about this one. Mainly because I’m excited that I’ve got a biography that has gripped me almost as much as some of my favourite books, but entirely because it is so wonderfully written. Here are some of the reasons I found myself loving it…

  • Surprisingly dark: I’ve always found Billy Connolly very funny, finding a lot of enjoyment in watching his stand-up shows with my mother. However, until I read this book, I had no idea just how hard his life had been growing up. I won’t give away the details for those who many not have read this book, but I would use this as a reason to understand the struggle he faced during his childhood.
  • Making the celebrity life seem realisitic: As out of reach and surreal the life of a celebrity may seem, Stephensen manages to detail her and Connolly’s ascent in stardom with hilarious anecdotes and such honesty that their life seems not to dissimilar to our own. Of course, the concept of drinking with George Harrison or partying with the Rolling Stones is still very farfetched for use “non-celebrities”, but the way Stephensen regails these stories makes it feel like you’re truly involved.
  • Heart-Warming and Hilarious: when it came to the overall story, Pamela Stephensen did a phenomenal job of retelling Connolly’s life by weaving together the dark past he faced, with the hilarious anecdotes of their present lives. This was also used when discussing the troubles Billy continues to face and how he incorporates or even deals with these issues through his own comedy, whether onstage or in everyday life.


From the moment I put the book down I felt a sadness that there wasn’t more for me to read. Of course, this isn’t entirely true as there are many more biographies/autobiographies on Billy Connolly’s life. The sadness comes from the fact this one was so well written and entertaining. I found myself laughing during some of the more inappropriate moments, and tearing up during the more dark tales.

I would highly recommend this as a biography that everyone adds to their collection and reads immediately, whether they’re a fan of his or not. You’ll most likely find yourself coming round to at least admiring this loud and brass Scottish comedian.


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