Is literary biography so widely read for popular, "prurient" reasons, or for reputable intellectual reasons? Is it of interest only in so far as it illuminates a writer's work? How much can we know about a life, such as Shakespeare's, where the documentation is so slight? These are among the wide range of questions addressed by the seventeen leading biographers and literary critics in this important new work.
Always a popular genre, biography has become one of the most immediate and accessible modes of writing about literature. This book examines such literary figures as Conrad, Lawrence, Huxley, Virginia Woolf, and the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Lord Rochester, while addressing the nature and form of literary biography--the concept of biography as autobiography, the problems the genre poses, the necessity of the ignorance of a biographer, and the literary biographer at work. The distinguished contributors include Anthony Storr, Lyndall Gordon, Richard Holmes, Jon Stallworthy, Hermione Lee, David Bradshaw, and Ann Thwaite.