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~ Writing a Biography ~ STALKING THE ELEPHANTAbout Writing Biography and Imagining a Life

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SAY, "I DO"? (TBC, JULY 2017)

  How long does it take a biographer to commit to a subject?

  At the April, 2017 meeting of the New York University Biography Seminar, four noted biographers talked about their current projects and how they came to them. Turns out that even for experienced biographers, the process of deciding on a subject can be long, circuitous, and complicated.

      About a decade ago, journalist and former book editor Amanda Vaill  Read More 
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BIOGRAPHERS EXPLORE POINTS OF VIEW: A Report by Deirdre David (TBC: April, 2016)

"Other Point of View," by Beryl Owl (Deviant Art)
   If you're writing a biography (or a memoir), or you're thinking about writing one, the following report by Deirdre David (Olivia Manning: A Woman at War) on the proceedings of the annual 2016 Leon Levy Conference on Biography may offer some food for thought.

   David's report appeared in the April, 2016 newsletter of the Biographers International Organization, which is dedicated to fostering the community of biographers worldwide. For more reports, click on "TBC reports" in the sidebar.  Read More 
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JOHN MATTESON: CHOOSING A SUBJECT AND WHY WE WRITE

A couple of weeks ago I attended a terrific panel discussion by four extremely able biographers to hear them kick around one of my most favorite and least resolvable topics: "Is Biography True?"

    I've posted a report on the event here. Since there wasn't space to consider all the interesting and thought-provoking things that were said, Read More 
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Interview: DEIRDRE BAIR ON STEINBERG, CAPONE, AND CHOOSING A SUBJECT (TBC INTERVIEW)

This week, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday will publish Deirdre Bair's Saul Steinberg: A Biography, the first biography of the New York artist whose beloved, ferociously funny New Yorker cartoons are now icons of American satire. (Think "View of the World from 9th Avenue," his famous 1976 map of the United States as seen by parochial New Yorkers.) I interviewed Bair for the monthly newsletter of Biographers International. An adapted version of that conversation appears here.  Read More 
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DO YOU HAVE TO "LIKE" THE SUBJECT YOU PICK?

Deirdre Bair. What does "like" mean?
Biographers are often asked whether they "like" the person they've chosen as a subject, or some version of that question. The implication is that if one is going to be stranded on the desert island of research with another human being for years on end, one had damn well better be able to enjoy his or her company, and be able to make the reader enjoy it for five hundred pages, too. Read More 
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