Literary Biography: An Introduction illustrates and accounts for the literary genre that merges historical facts with the conventions of narrative while revealing how the biographical context can enrich the study of canonical authors. * Provides up-to-date and comprehensive coverage of issues and controversies in life writing, a rapidly growing field of study * Offers a valuable biographical and historical context for the study of major classic and contemporary authors * Features an interview with Wilfred Owen's biographer, Dominic Hibberd; a gallery of literary portraits with commentaries; close readings that illustrate the differences between fiction and biography; speculation about likely future developments; and detailed suggestions for further reading
Michael Benton is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Southampton. His publications include the highly influential Teaching Literature 9-14 (with Geoff Fox, 1985) and several widely used anthologies of poetry, most notably the Touchstones series (with Peter Benton, various editions 1968-2008). His most recent book was Studies in the Spectator Role: Literature, Painting and Pedagogy (2000).
List of Illustrations xi Acknowledgements xii Introduction xiii 1 Literary Biography Now and Then 1 The Cinderella of Literary Studies 1 The Rise and Rise of Literary Biography 4 Dr Johnson: Biographer, Theorist and Subject 7 Virginia Woolf: Time, Memory and Identity 12 2 Life [Hi]Stories: Telling Tales 18 Aspects of Narrative 18 (i) Beginnings: Charlotte Bronte 19 (ii) Middles: Thomas Hardy 21 (iii) Endings: Jane Austen 25 The Naked Biographer 28 Inventing the Truth 30 3 Reading Biography 35 Biographer, Biography and the Reader 35 Imagining Blake 38 Problems of a Hybrid Form 42 Reading Lessons 45 4 Literary Biomythography 47 Biomythography 47 Myth-Making: The Bronte Paradigm 48 (i) Facts: Selection and 'Spin' 49 (ii) Fact into Fiction 50 (iii) Fiction into Myth 50 (iv) Myth into 'Faction' 51 (v) Demythologising the Brontes 52 Variations on the Theme 53 (i) Byron 54 (ii) Dickens 55 (iii) Sylvia Plath 58 Conclusions 63 5 Inferential Biography: Shakespeare the Invisible Man 67 Virtual Shakespeares 68 (i) The Facts 68 (ii) The Theatrical Context 69 (iii) The Social Context 71 (iv) The Shakespeare Mythos 72 (v) The Shakespeare Canon 73 The Implied Author: Inferential Biography 74 (i) The Art of Love: The Sonnets 75 (ii) Prejudice, Discrimination and the Law: The Merchant of Venice 77 (iii) War and the Politics of Nationhood: Henry V 79 (iv) Language and Thinking: Hamlet 82 (v) Art and Artifice: The Tempest 85 The Limits of Imagination 87 6 Literary Biography and Portraiture 92 Sister Arts 92 (i) Biography and Portraiture: Reynolds's Portrait of Dr Johnson 94 (ii) Reading the Image: Cassandra Austen's Sketch of Jane Austen 96 (iii) Visual Myth-Making: Henry Weekes's Shelley Monument 98 (iv) Celebrity Image: Thomas Phillips's Portrait of Byron in Albanian Dress 100 (v) Visual Memoir: Joseph Severn's Portrait of John Keats 102 (vi) Bardography: The Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare 104 (vii) The Inner Life: R. W. Buss's Dickens's Dream 106 (viii) Sisters' Arts: Vanessa Bell's Portrait of Virginia Woolf 108 (ix) 'To prepare a face ...': Patrick Heron's Portrait of T. S. Eliot 110 (x) Branwell's Ghost: Branwell Bronte's Portrait of his Three Sisters 112 Art to Order 114 7 Comparative Biography: Dickens's 'Lives' 117 The Victorian Dickens 118 The Modern Dickens 121 The Post-Modern Dickens 125 Lives and Times 130 8 Literary Auto/Biography 132 Acts of Self-Creation in Wordsworth and Joyce 132 Wordsworth's 'biographic verse' 134 Joyce's 'artist, like the God of creation' 143 Masks and Metaphors 149 9 Biography in Practice 152 An Interview with Dominic Hibberd, author of Wilfred Owen: A New Biography 152 Living with the Subject 153 Imagining Wilfred 157 Matters of Life and Death 166 10 Authorised Lives 171 The Life of Graham Greene by Norman Sherry 172 Bernard Shaw by Michael Holroyd 176 T. S. Eliot by Peter Ackroyd 181 Orwell: The Life by D. J. Taylor 186 Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life by Andrew Motion 192 Contemporary Lives 199 11 Literary Lives: Scenes and Stories 202 Dinner with Dr Johnson and John Wilkes 203 Dinner with Mrs Ramsay 208 Biography and Fiction 215 12 Biography and the Future 218 Select Bibliography 225 Further Reading 225 General Bibliography 229 Index 239
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