Bad Behaviour and Biography: a lecture by Dame Hermione Lee
Dame Hermione Lee is a renowned critic, biographer and academic, currently President of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Her books include a study of the Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen, an edition of Stevie Smith, a short critical book on Philip Roth, biographies of the American novelists Edith Wharton and Willa Cather, and a now classic biography of Virginia Woolf, first published in 1996. Her biography of Penelope Fitzgerald won the prestigious James Tait Black Prize and was chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2014 by the New York Times.
Drawing on her experience of writing and teaching biography, Hermione Lee will talk about how biographers deal with their subjects' bad behaviour, bad moods, difficult qualities, and human weaknesses. How truthful can biography be, how tolerant, and how forgiving? Lee will reflect on the challenges of judgement, objectivity and neutrality in life-writing.