Biography seems valuable partly because it can say something about the lies we all tell.
And it can say it without ticking people off and knowing better. It can say, This is how we are, and how we get through things sometimes. One must be more courageous and not destroy things like Dickens and Hardy and the rest of them did. Hardy’s view of writing his own biography was genius really—there was no length to which he wouldn’t go. But having said that, when I came to look at my own papers not long ago, some tremors went through me. I read in ten minutes a series of postcards and odd letters sent to me over a decade, and I suddenly said, Christ! Now I know what was being said. At the time, I didn’t. Also, it’s amazing what we remember and how we forget. The point is that if I’m saying this about one of my subjects, I’m saying it about myself, too. It’s part of the human condition.
Pictured: Michael Holroyd’s writing room. Photography Credit Eamonn McCabe