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Writing Lives


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Lara Feigel, Delia Jarrett Macauley, Anthony Joseph and Hermione Lee consider experimental life-writing and the limits of biography.

Of writing biography, Hermione Lee has said, ‘There is a tension between the muddle and repetition and fragmentariness of a life, and the desire of the biographer to turn it into story narrative.’ How does a biographer make sense of a life’s complexities? In this event, four writers consider experimental life-writing and the limits of biography. Lara Feigel is a literary critic and Reader in Modern Literature at King’s College London. Her most recent book, Free Woman, is part personal memoir and part biography of Doris Lessing. Delia Jarrett Macauley is the author of the novel Moses, Citizen and Me, winner of the 2005 Orwell Prize, and a biography of the writer and first Black woman employed by the BBC, Una Marson. Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, and musician. His most recent book, Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon, combines fact with the imaginative structure of the novel. They are joined by biographer and critic Hermione Lee, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, whose work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton and Penelope Fitzgerald.

We are grateful to the Royal Literary Fund for sponsoring this event.

Recorded on: November 29, 2019
Recorded at: King's College London
Sponsored by: Royal Literary Fund