Biographies and Autobiographies About Authors, S/D

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S: Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey - a collection of Gorey interviews from various sources

S: Victor Hugo: A Biography by Graham Robb - don't make the same mistake I did, and assume that just because you've read Les Miserables or The Hunchback of Notre Dame that you've got a grasp on his work or life

S: Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer by Richard Holmes - kind of a travelogue, kind of a collection of short bios, kind of hard to describe

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Friday, 14 May 2004 19:50 (sixteen years ago) link

S: That biography of Perec by David Bellos, if you like Perec. One of the odd things is that the biography is written by the guy who has translated many of his works into English, so it ends up with the same "tone" that Perec has (in English). It's weird.

Casuistry (Chris P), Friday, 14 May 2004 20:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Mournful Rembrance (I think is the title)
very well done
abt Poe
Good but dark of course

Franz Kafka (Franz), Saturday, 15 May 2004 04:38 (sixteen years ago) link

I recently read a biography of Roald Dahl that was quite entertaining.
Can't remember the author. Sorry.

Mike Guy (Miss Lonelyhearts), Sunday, 16 May 2004 21:10 (sixteen years ago) link

search: prick up your ears by john lahr (about joe orton).

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 16 May 2004 23:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Search: Richard Ellman's biography of Oscar Wilde. It's a treat when the biographer is actually a good writer too! I'm reading a Wodehouse biography right now by a close acquaintence of his -- I've blocked out her name because she's such a putrid excuse for a writer.

But I've heard Ellman's author bios are generally excellent.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 17 May 2004 03:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Um, well, Roald Dahl's autobiographies are pretty excellent.

Ellman's Joyce is a somewhat canonical biography; I seem to remember that I skimmed a lot of it (when I read it a decade ago).

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 17 May 2004 05:06 (sixteen years ago) link

did ellmann do any bios besides wilde and joyce?

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Monday, 17 May 2004 07:04 (sixteen years ago) link

Nicholas Shakespeare's biography of Bruce Chatwin. Excellent.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Monday, 17 May 2004 08:20 (sixteen years ago) link

I recently read 'Recollections of My Life as a Woman' by Diane di Prima and found it fascintating. Also, I enjoyed 'Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter' by Simone de Beauvoir. Both are good books about women breaking boundaries.

bookdwarf (bookdwarf), Monday, 17 May 2004 15:28 (sixteen years ago) link

I've been dipping in and out of "PG Wodehouse: A Biography" by Frances Donaldson. It contains great swathes of his letters and really details the WWII radio address scandal. I find myself appreciating the craft of his work even more, and liking Plum more than a little. He seems somehow... hapless. (Xposted to the Wodehouse S/D thread.)

Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Monday, 17 May 2004 16:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Stephen King's "On Writing" was kinda fine :-) (It's autobiographical)

Fred (Fred), Monday, 17 May 2004 17:00 (sixteen years ago) link

S: "Early Spring" by Tove Ditlevsen (danish writer, about her working class childhood and entry into writing).

S: "Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius" by Lawrence Jackson. I don't read too many writer bios, but this one i liked - a fine balance of history + criticism.

a spectator bird (a spectator bird), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 13:44 (sixteen years ago) link

S, S, S: Barthes par Barthes.

Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 23:50 (sixteen years ago) link

Also, my mum says 'Speak, Memory' is great.

Gregory Henry (Gregory Henry), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 23:51 (sixteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
"Lytton Strachey: The New Biography" by Michael Holroyd. It's a classic of literary biogrphy, though the interest in Strachey's life is more about how he lived it with and with whom he lived it rather than what he wrote.

"Orwell" by Bernard Crick. I know that D. J. Taylor's biography is the flavor of the moment as Orwell biographies go, but I still think that Crick's is the best, particularly for explaining Orwell's politics.

"Graham Greene" by Norman Sherry. The first volume is so enormous it almost chokes the reader with its bulk, but the second volume is much more manageable (not to mention more interesting as it gets into the more important and controversial portions of Greene's career). It will be interesting to see how Sherry finishes it up in the final volume.

Mark, Sunday, 13 June 2004 15:52 (sixteen years ago) link

Having just read it this weekend, I can strongly recommend Maxim Gorki's My Childhood - and presumably the other two books in the trilogy as well.

Øystein H-O (Øystein H-O), Monday, 14 June 2004 08:39 (sixteen years ago) link

six months pass...
Autobiography Search:
Little Wilson And Big God -Anthony Burgess
My Life of Absurdity - Chester Himes
Burning The Days - James Salter
Something About A Soldier - Charles Willeford

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 06:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence is one of the best memoirs I've read. And the biography of him by John Mack, A Prince of Our Disorder, is worth reading too.

Gail S, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 19:13 (sixteen years ago) link

six months pass...
I found the Seven Pillars unspeakably dull. All that to'ing and fro'ing through the desert. Wasn't Lawrence a bit of a tosser?

Charles Dexter (Holey), Saturday, 16 July 2005 12:55 (fifteen years ago) link

twelve years pass...

Nearly 15K on how Biographies aren't good rly

Layers of hate-reading to be had.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 11 November 2017 14:02 (three years ago) link


Part Time Punkahwallah (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 11 November 2017 15:27 (three years ago) link

been a long time, but I enjoyed that Crick bio of Orwell mentioned upthread: def a study, with speculation and evidence clearly presented---also mentions stuff I didn't know, such as Down and Out... being fiction, although I don't remember how much of it might have been based on personal experience, but to some extent influenced by Jack London's People of the Abyss(which is non-fiction, or at least there was an edition with his pix, via concealed camera, I think---sold a copy of it in a used book store, to a woman whose son was always competing w friends re rare book finds). Also London's The Iron Heel was a forerunner of 1984, though the Orwell treatment was distinctly his.
Some of his old schoolmates got a bit impatient later, something like, "You couldn't ask him for a light without getting a lecture on production of matches and the plight of workers in match factories." One old boy deplored the description of their alma mater in "Such, Such Were The Joys", but then took it further (interviewed by Crick, I think), volunteering that it was not terribly uncommon to see a lad vomiting into his breakfast bowl.

dow, Saturday, 11 November 2017 18:16 (three years ago) link

xp enjoyed that Alice Spawls piece - seems like a very difficult excercise, writing a Brontë bio disguised as something about Brontë bios and bios in general _without_ ending up like all the other Brontë bios responding to other Brontë bios. Some beautiful passages too! Good work!

abcfsk, Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:22 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

im reading and loving vol 1 Oneill: Son and Playwright by louis sheaffer

johnny crunch, Monday, 10 August 2020 20:48 (eight months ago) link

four months pass...

on to the ruth franklin shirley jackson bio, v good also

the oneill bio i mentioned last post (vol 1&2) is prob amongst the top 10 books across any genre that ive ever read fwiw

johnny crunch, Thursday, 24 December 2020 03:27 (three months ago) link

two of my favorites are Nabokov's Speak, Memory and Primo Levi's The Periodic Table. i like memoirs that don't try to connect the dots.

wasdnuos (abanana), Saturday, 26 December 2020 15:56 (three months ago) link

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