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'Tolstoy liked to go out with a scythe and work with the peasants in the fields. I'm not a nineteenth century Russian landowner, but I certainly find manual labour a more beneficial distraction than, say, googling the news every fifteen minutes.'
'If you are one of those writers that get most of their material in this way — from the here and now — it's perhaps best just to accept your role. If you are going to write well, you have to be objective,'

Former RLF Trustee Richard Holmes speaks with Gabriel Gbadamosi about the intrusions and liberations of biographical research, shares some useful advice for aspiring biographers and considers the impact of photography and the changing nature of biography as a form.


Helena Drysdale speaks with James McConnachie about the treasure trove of her ancestors’ archives, her study of minority ethnic populations in Europe and the endangered languages that help define them, the colonial impositions of the English language, and why you should ask when you don’t know.


Mark McCrum speaks with James McConnachie about his first travel writing adventures in South Africa during the last days of apartheid, being sent rather unwillingly for a further book about Australia, and working out what you’re writing about as you go along.


Rick Stroud speaks with Robin Blake about how his film-making background influences his literary projects, his fascination with WW2 and the projects it has led him to, and his love of simple, clear writing.


Nigel Cliff speaks with James McConnachie about cold war concert pianist Van Cliburn and Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, and considers their roles at turning points in history and meetings of cultures.

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