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Works On Paper

On sale

6th November 2003

Price: £10.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349113968

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Michael Holroyd opens with a startling attack on biography, which is answered by two essays on the ethics and values of non-fiction writing. The book then examines the work of several contemporary biographers, the place of biography in fiction and of fiction in biography, and the revelations of some extravagant autobiographers, from Osbert Sitwell to Quentin Crisp – to which he adds some adventures of his own, in particular an important and unpublished piece THE MAKING OF GBS, a riveting story of deadly literary warfare.

The book ends with a series of satires, celebrations, apologias and polemics which throw light not only on Michael Holroyd’s progress as a biographer, but also his record as an embattled campaigner in the field of present-day literary politics.


His views expressed with humour and elan on figures ranging from Sitwell to Quentin Crisp are a feast for the mind.
He remains an eloquent advertisement for the power of biography to animate what would otherwise be forgotten.
Holroyd is an engaging, stimulating commentator who never reduces his academic work to accessible fatuity. He is gently but firmly persuasive of the value of biography.
If anyone still doubts that biographers are "proper" writers, rather than mere transcribers of life's rich record, then they should read this book.