A Companion to Literary Biography

A Companion to Literary Biography

by Richard Bradford

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An authoritative review of literary biography covering the seventeenth century to the twentieth century

A Companion to Literary Biography offers a comprehensive account of literary biography spanning the history of the genre across three centuries. The editor – an esteemed literary biographer and noted expert in the field – has encouraged contributors to explore the theoretical and methodological questions raised by the writing of biographies of writers. The text examines how biographers have dealt with the lives of classic authors from Chaucer to contemporary figures such as Kingsley Amis.

The Companion brings a new perspective on how literary biography enables the reader to deal with the relationship between the writer and their work. Literary biography is the most popular form of writing about writing, yet it has been largely neglected in the academic community. This volume bridges the gap between literary biography as a popular genre and its relevance for the academic study of literature. This important work:

  • Allows the author of a biography to be treated as part of the process of interpretation and investigates biographical reading as an important aspect of criticism
  • Examines the birth of literary biography at the close of the seventeenth century and considers its expansion through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Addresses the status and writing of literary biography from numerous perspectives and with regard to various sources, methodologies and theories
  • Reviews the ways in which literary biography has played a role in our perception of writers in the mainstream of the English canon from Chaucer to the present day

Written for students at the undergraduate level, through postgraduate and doctoral levels, as well as academics, A Companion to Literary Biography illustrates and accounts for the importance of the literary biography as a vital element of criticism and as an index to our perception of literary history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118896259
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/18/2018
Series: Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 632
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Richard Bradford is Research Professor of English at Ulster University and Visiting Professor at the University of Avignon. He has held posts in Oxford, the University of Wales, and Trinity College, Dublin. He has produced 25 academic monographs on a variety of topics and has published well-reviewed literary biographies with trade presses on figures such as Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Alan Sillitoe, Martin Amis, John Milton, and Ernest Hemingway.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors ix

Introduction 1
Richard Bradford

Part I The History of Literary Biography 7

1 The Emergence of Literary Biography 9
Jane Darcy

2 Lasting First Impressions: On the Origins of Ambivalent Attitudes to the Lake Poets, Cockney Keats, and Satanic Shelley 25
Andrew Keanie

3 How to Be an Author: Victorian Literary Biography c. 1830–1880 45
ulian North

4 Un/making the Victorians: Literary Biography, 1880–1930 63
Amber K. Regis

5 “Aerial Creations of the Poets”? New Biography and the BBC in the 1930s 87
Claire Davison

6 Literary Biography in the Twentieth Century 107
Dale Salwak

Part II Issues, Theories, and Methodologies 121

7 Ethics and Literary Biography 123
Craig Howes

8 Concerns about Facts and Form in Literary Biography 143
Jane McVeigh

9 Women with a Theory: Feminism and Biography 159
Kay Ferres

10 The Role of Diaries in the Development of Literary Biography 175
Paul K. Lyons

11 Blurred Boundaries: Literary Biography, Literary Autobiography, and Evidence 195
James Underwood

12 Reading and Interpreting: The Archival Legacies of Canadian Women Writers 213
Linda M. Morra

13 Johnny and Bess: Life Writing and Gender 229
Anna Beer

14 “The Man’s Life in the Letters of the Man”: Larkin, Letters, and Literary Biography 245
Rebecca Devine

15 J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Style in Autobiography 263
Emanuela Tegla

16 The Experience of Archives: Richmal Crompton and Others 275
Jane McVeigh

17 Disappearing into the Front Page: The Case of Salman Rushdie and the Postmodern Memoir 291
Madelena Gonzalez

18 Evidence and Invention: The Materials of Literary Biography 309
Emily Bell

19 Mustabeens and Mightabeens: The Unknowability of English Renaissance Playwrights 325
Kevin De Ornellas

20 Literary Biography, Literary Studies, and Theory: An Uneasy Relationship 339
Richard Bradford

21 Estate Management: Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark 357
Martin Stannard

Part III Classic Cases 373

22 Chaucer 375
Marion Turner

23 Writing Shakespeare’s Life 391
Lois Potter

24 John Donne 405
Tim Hancock

25 Jonathan Swift 423
James Ward

26 Life and Death in the Literary Biographies of Pope and His Circle 437
Paul Baines

27 Richardson and Fielding 455
Thomas Lockwood

28 Biography as Myth‐Making: Obfuscation and Invention in Victorian Mand Post‐Victorian Literary Biography 469
Jan Jędrzejewski

29 Dickens, Tennyson, Kipling 489
John Batchelor

30 Would the Real Mr. Eliot Please Stand Up? 511
Andrew Keanie

31 After Ellmann: The State of Joyce Biography 529
John McCourt

32 Literary Biography and the De‐Canonization of Amy Lowell 547
Carl Rollyson

33 Reviewing the Lives and Works of Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis 565
Andrew James

Index 581

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