Dona Munker: Writing a Biography

      ~ Writing a Biography ~
      About Writing Biography and Imagining a Life

• Lyndall Gordon on the Purpose of Biography

October 5, 2011

Tags: Lyndall Gordon

Lyndall Gordon

    Lyndall Gordon is known for literary biographies that focus on her subjects' inner lives and creative impulses. (Disclosure: Gordon's most recent book, LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds, is about the poet who was responsible for enabling my subject, Sara Bard Field, to finally discover her own poetic voice.) (more…)


July 16, 2011

Tags: Lyndall Gordon, Place

Istanbul at sunset. (Photo: qmannola)

        It's never smart for anyone working on a biography to underestimate the power of place. Especially when the writer is reading someone else's work.

        When I went on vacation two weeks ago, I brought along Lives Like Loaded Guns, the biography of Emily Dickinson by Lyndall Gordon, to read on the transatlantic leg of a trip to Istanbul. (more…)

    WHAT I'M READING NOW: Lyndall Gordon's "Lives Like Loaded Guns"

    July 1, 2011

    Tags: Lyndall Gordon

    Emily Dickinson (Amherst College Library)

          Just as my husband and I are about to go on vacation--a trip to Istanbul in honor of a Big Birthday--I've become caught up in Lyndall Gordon's Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds. My justification is that Sara Bard Field, who belonged to the generation after Dickinson ( (more…)

          The disciple of a famous sculptor came upon his master carving an elephant from a huge, shapeless chunk of stone. "Master," cried the disciple, "What splendor! What realism! What insight! How do you do it?" "Simple," replied the sculptor. "You just cut away everything that isn't elephant."

          Stalking the Elephant is a blog about creating an elephant from a chunk of stone, a.k.a. writing a biography.

          It's also about the biographer's writing life (well, mine, anyway) and a work in progress, SARA AND ERSKINE, AN AMERICAN ROMANCE. This is an intimate reconstruction of the life of SARA BARD FIELD, a World War One-era minister's wife, suffragist, and poet, and her extraordinary affair with an outspoken attorney, philosophical anarchist, and Renaissance man CHARLES ERSKINE SCOTT WOOD.

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          This couple takes up a lot of time (not to mention a lot of oxygen), and since I don't have a regular posting schedule, the best way to receive updates is to sign up to be notified when I post something new.

           Here's how: On the blog page, click on the RSS button of your browser. (In Firefox: Go to the Bookmarks menu and select "Subscribe to This Page.") You can then check to see if there's been an update in the RSS feed of your browser's toolbar.

      Visit the RESOURCES page and take advantage of a growing list of links, blogs, and books for anyone interested in biography and writing lives.

        Sidebar Photo Credit: Elephant Country Web

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