Confessions of a Serial Biographer
By Carl Rollyson
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Some critics rank biographers just above serial murderers. The author of this book, a self-described member of the Samuel Johnson school, doesn't share this view. An account of a life, he believes, should adhere to the truth as the biographer sees it, not to the sentiments of others. This memoir of a professional biographer's life tells the inside story of how he became interested in his subjects and reveals the mechanics of the trade: how to assemble proposals for publishers, conduct interviews and archival research, and joust with editors, subjects and their literary estates. Other biographers have described their process but remained discrete, not wishing to offend their sources and supporters. This author has forgone such caution.