From the Archives: Biographies

This is a second post in which I’m following Simon’s example at Stuck in a Book of posts in which he revisits his old reviews. I’ve been looking back into my archives at biographies ‘“ triggered by Katrina’s post on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca Notebook, which I’ve also read and written about in 2010.

So here’s a list of some of my posts on biographies of authors – with links to the posts, a short summary and a quotation from my review.

First of all two from 2007:

  • Daphne by Margaret Forster – a biography of Daphne Du Maurier, the author of Rebecca etc

From my post: There is too much I could say about ‘Daphne’, not least that it is a candid account of her relationships, eg her troubled married life; wartime love affair; and friendships with Gertrude Lawrence and Ellen Doubleday, as well as an excellent source of information on Du Maurier’s method of writing and views on life.

  • Lewis Carroll by Morton N Cohen – a biography of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) a long post  which has a somewhat controversial interpretation of some aspects of Dodgson’s life.

From my post: his account of Charles Dodgson’s life is basically chronological, but because he also looks at different aspects of Charles’s life it is a bit repetitive. As biographies go this is not one of the most straightforward or readable. It’s extremely detailed and at nearly 600 pages it is not a quick read.

One from 2008:

  • Dear Dodie by Valerie Grove – biography of Dodie Smith, the author of I Capture the Castle etc.

From my post: It is very readable and gives a very full picture of Dodie’s life, and it has an excellent index (always a plus for me). 

And two from 2009:

  • Wild Mary by Patrick Marnham – biography of Mary Wesley, the author of Camomile Lawn and other books.

From my post:  … I certainly wouldn’t like to have met Mary. She seems to have been a difficult and determined woman who aroused strong passions in those who knew and loved her.

From my post: My outstanding impression of the book is how amazingly detailed it is given the fact that few records of her life have survived.

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the mention, and the interesting post. I don’t read many biographies for some reason although when I do I usually enjoy them. Like you I appreciate a good index, sometimes there isn’t one at all and that’s always a bit of a shock. I’m just going to have to extend my book list!

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  2. Margaret – Thanks for these links and snippets. I used to read biographies much more than I do now and I ought to get back into it. I appreciate the reminder of how good they can be.

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  3. I read the Daphne du Maurier bio as well–thought it was excellent. She was a remarkable (if complex) woman. I’m very curious about the Mary Wesley bio as I have loved her novels, and I have the Tomalin on Jane Austen. I love biographies and memoirs in general and don’t read enough of them.

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