Works on Paper by Michael Holroyd
The Craft of Biography and Autobiography

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Synopsis

A stunning collection of essays on the craft of biography and autobiography by the acclaimed biographer of George Bernard Shaw and Lytton Strachey.

Works on Paper is a selection by one of today's leading biographers from his lectures, essays, and reviews written over the last quarter of a century --mainly on the craft of biography and autobiography but also covering what Michael Holroyd describes as his "enthusiasms and alibis."

Opening with a startling attack on biography, which is answered by two essays on the ethics and values of non-fiction writing, the book goes on to examine 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from Osbert Sitwell to Quentin Crisp--to which he adds some adventures of his own, in particular an important and unpublished piece "The Making of GBS," a riveting story of internecine literary warfare.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.

 

About Michael Holroyd

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Michael Holroyd was born in 1935 and educated at Eton College. His lives of Hugh Kingsmill, Lyton Strachey, Augustus John and George Bernard Shaw have established him as one of the most influential biographers of modern times. His family autobiography, Basil Street Blues (1999) garnered the greatest number of non-fiction and end-of-year critics' choices that year. A past chairman of the Society of Authors, the Royal Society of Literature and Book Trust, past president of English PEN and a former member of the Arts Council, Michael Holroyd has lectured around the world for the British Council and at literary festivals. He is married to the novelist Margaret Drabble and lives in London and Somerset.
 
Published May 1, 2002 by Counterpoint. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Works on Paper

The Guardian

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Where the Stress Falls Susan Sontag Jonathan Cape £17.99, pp351 Works on Paper Michael Holroyd Little, Brown £20, pp320 Should distinguished literary figures preserve their occasional journalism in book form and, if so, how?

Jan 13 2002 | Read Full Review of Works on Paper: The Craft of ...

Publishers Weekly

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The liveliest pieces offer a generous helping of Holroyd's own reminiscences, particularly "The Making of Bernard Shaw," a behind-the-scenes account of his attempt to befriend a cranky, ungenerous George Bernard Shaw scholar, and "The Battle for Public Lending Right," an account of Holroyd's batt...

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Project MUSE

One passage from Basil Street Blues is the real foreword to Works on Paper: This is what has attracted me to biography: the idea of an "intimacy between strangers", a closeness growing up during the acts of writing and reading between an author, the readers, and their subject, all unknown to on...

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