Caroline Moorehead gave a class on biography at Somerset House.
- Establish your purpose in writing – portrait? forensic examination? a way of telling social history? what can you bring to this particular subject?
- Think through your structure – where do you start and how? where do you end? written in chronological order or by theme? how many chapters?
- Telling the story – will you bring yourself into the narrative?
- What will you call your subject – Mrs Woolf? Virginia? Woolf? how many main characters will you have? how much history? how will you go about bringing your subject to life?
- Sources – are there private papers, letters, diaries? how much original material is there? what else has been written about your subject? what contemporary portraits? newspaper articles? will you do interviews?
|Hermione Lee||Biography: A Very Short Introduction|
|Iris Origo||Essay on biography in A Need to Testify|
|Michael Holroyd||Works on Paper|
|Lytton Strachey||Eminent Victorians|
|Geoff Dyer||Out of Sheer Rage|
|Janet Malcolm||The Journalist and the Murderer|
|Colm Toibin||The Master|
|Hilary Mantel||Giving up the Ghost|
|Alain de Botton||How Proust Can Change Your Life|
|Priscilla Napier||A Late Beginning|
This masterclass was run in collaboration with the Arvon Foundation. The class was open to writers at all stages, and it was a discussion as much as anything, with people bringing their own ideas, skills and views.