All items: Fanny Burney

Claire Harman speaks with Caroline Sanderson about the painstaking, and sometimes obsessive art of literary biography, and how careful detective work can bring new insights into even the most written-about lives.

Writing for emotional survival is familiar; writing for physical survival less so. Yet the physical act of writing raised Sara Coleridge from her sickbed, reassures Hilary Mantel, comforts Laura Hillenbrand and, during a recent medical crisis, kept Katharine Grant ‘threaded to the world’. Never mind words, the act of writing is medicine.