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Price: $11.95

Paperback 144 pp.
15 b/w halftones, 111 mm x 174 mm



Publication date:
August 2009

Imprint: OUP UK

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Biography: A Very Short Introduction

Hermione Lee

Series : Very Short Introductions

Biography is one of the most popular, best-selling, and widely-read of literary genres.

But why do certain people and historical events arouse so much interest? How can biographies be compared with history and works of fiction? Does a biography need to be true? Is it acceptable to omit or conceal things? Does the biographer need to personally know the subject? Must a biographer be subjective?

In this Very Short Introduction Hermione Lee considers the cultural and historical background of different types of biographies, looking at the factors that affect biographers and whether there are different strategies, ethics, and principles required for writing about one person compared to another. She also considers contemporary biographical publications and considers what kind of 'lives' are the most popular and in demand.

Readership : General readers with literary interests, writers, historians, literary critics, and literature students.

1. The Biography Channel
2. Exemplary Lives
3. Warts and All
4. National Biography
5. Fallen Idols
6. Against Biography
7. Public Roles
8. Telling the Story

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Hermoine Lee is a well-known literary biographer, author of critical studies of Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, and Philip Roth. She has also written major biographies of Virginia Woolf (1996), and Edith Wharton (2007), a selection of which was published by Princeton University Press as Virginia Woolf's Nose (2005). From 1998 to 2008 she was the Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature and a Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford. She is now President of Wolfson College.

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Special Features

  • Looks at the origins and development of biographical writing.
  • Considers why certain historical periods and figures arouse so much interest.
  • Looks at the relationship between biographies, history and fiction.
  • Examines the impact of religion on the development and direction of biographies.
  • Reveals the ways in which biographers write their stories - from the start and close, to the tone they use, and the rhetorical devices they employ.
  • Part of the best-selling Very Short Introduction series - over three million copies sold worldwide.