Sara Wheeler discusses the fine line between biography and fiction, and how to tackle the challenges of unreliable sources and research gaps when writing about real lives.
'Like Mansfield, I love writing in cafes and bars. Being the anonymous voyeur, tucked away in a corner, with my notebook, and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine; a recreation most writers will recognise.'
'The task of reading is to form an order from this confusion; to arrange these influences into a new beginning. '
The suburbs have often been dismissed as dull, but for Charles Jennings, they are a source of inspiration, offering a calm and neutral space in which his imagination can run wild.
It isn't every ‘newly hatched’ reporter who gets to interview some of the most eminent figures in the cultural life of her times — but Diana Hendry did just that, compiling an impressive cuttings file that included interviews with Bertrand Russell, Sir Basil Spence, Stevie Smith, Brigid Brophy, L. S. Lowry, and Marlene Dietrich.
Dorothy Parker claimed the Bloomsbury set painted in circles, lived in squares and loved in triangles. Our own obsession with Bloomsbury, as Nicholas Murray points out, seems to spiral — in spite of their old school privilege and elitism. Does Bloomsbury merit our continuing regard? Or were they just a bunch of vocal, self-boosting toffs, whose artistry has been seriously overvalued?