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Biography: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 9 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (9 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199533547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199533541
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 11.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

It would be hard to think of anyone better to provide a crisp contribution to OUP's Very Short Introductions. (Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian)

A sophisticated overview for the general reader. (Andrew Lycett, Literary Review)

Enjoyable book on the subject. (Henry Power, TLS)

About the Author

Hermoine Lee is a well-known literary biographer, author of critical studies of Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, and Philip Roth. She has also written major biographies of Virginia Woolf (1996), and Edith Wharton (2007), a selection of which was published by Princeton University Press as Virginia Woolf's Nose (2005). From 1998 to 2008 she was the Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature and a Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford. She is now President of Wolfson College.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Morganlefay VINE VOICE on 10 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short but detailed overview of what biography is and where it comes from. Professor Hermione Lee combines high academic achievement with a down-to-earth approach which makes her readable and enjoyable to anyone with an interest in knowing more about Biography, at whatever level. She is not frightening, but clear and it is amazing how much she has covered in this tiny volume - a positive Tardis of information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Mary Smith on 6 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is an astonishing amount of information crammed into this short introduction to biography. I bought it because I was looking for advice on how to write a biography and from that point of view I was disappointed. This is not a 'how-to' book. However, this book does look at lots of aspects of biography and why readers are so drawn to reading about other people's lives. It also looks at how styles of biography have changed and the ethics involved and I did enjoy reading it. My only grumble is the size of the print which is rather small and not for people with any kind of sight/eye problem. Reviewed by Mary Smith No More Mulberries
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By vibeke on 2 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
This little book by Hermione Lee is, as the title says, a first introduction to the subjet of writing biography. A good book if you are interestead in the matter.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good short introduction and gave me some interesting insights into this area of literature. I now look at biographies differently now when I read these
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Biography is a story of someone's life, and biographies have been written for as long as people had been interested in lives of others. This very short introduction takes us on a trip throughout centuries at exploring the genre, it's ever evolving conventions and the basic requirements that we expect from all good biographies. The main focus of the book is the British biographies, with a few others used as examples. There are no biographical examples from non-western sources, unless you count those from the Bible. Nonetheless, even with these constraints we get to see a vast variety of approaches to biography. Some biographers had intimate first-hand knowledge of their subject, while other wrote from a vast spatial and temporal distance, relying solely on secondhand sources. Another big difference that biography as a genre has undergone is the change of mores that nowadays puts a stronger stress on disreputable and salacious aspects of one's life. This is a far cry from "exemplary lives" model that had been popular in the past, which had presupposed the purpose of biography to be enlightenment and edification of the public.

Reading about biography in abstract can be rather boring. Luckily, this book is replete with examples from various notable biographies. However, if you are not interested in biography as a genre you may not get too much out of reading this book.
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