Biographical Passages: Essays on Victorian and Modernist Biography
edited by Joe Law and Linda K. Hughes
University of Missouri Press, 2000
Cloth: 978-0-8262-1256-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8262-6101-4
Library of Congress Classification PR756.B56B56 2000
Dewey Decimal Classification 820.9492


In the last two decades, biographies have grown in popularity, often eclipsing the novel in sales and accessibility to specialists and the general public alike. Widely regarded as a distinctly modern form, today's biographies are marked by their willingness to "tell all" or to pursue overt political aims. But how new, how unprecedented, are today's biographies? Biographical Passages addresses this important question by juxtaposing Victorian and Modernist biography from diverse perspectives.

Challenging the view that modern biographies are radically different from the straitlaced and ponderous Victorian tomes, Joe Law and Linda K. Hughes illustrate that continuities in biographical practice do exist, proving, for example, that the "tell-all" biography is not the exclusive preserve of the twentieth century. Enlisting the talents of such acclaimed biographers and scholars as P. N. Furbank and Michael Holroyd, Biographical Passages is a true exploration of the art and craft of biography. Essays on the usefulness of biography in approaching late Victorian artists provide a detailed scrutiny of modern biography across disciplines and from a rich array of vantage points. Additional essays on E. M. Forster and the relations between England and India analyze the role of cultural difference in biography.

Law and Hughes conclude Biographical Passages with an epilogue in tribute to a scholar whose work is closely connected to all the essays in this collection—Mary Lago. Widely known for her important contributions to studies of late Victorian and Edwardian literature, art, music, and Anglo-Indian relations, Lago is the author of biographies of Christina Herringham and E. M. Forster.

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