Biography

Kevin Rabalais reviews 'The Last Love Song: A biography of Joan Didion' by Tracy Daugherty

Kevin Rabalais
25 July 2016

For many young writers, Julian Wasser's 1968 Time magazine photograph of Joan Didion posed in front of her yellow Corvette remains the epitome of cool ...

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Ian Donaldson reviews 'Hegel's Owl: The life of Bernard Smith' by Sheridan Palmer

Ian Donaldson
21 July 2016

Hoping to travel to Vienna in the summer of 1950 through a part of Austria then under Soviet control, Bernard Smith sought an interview in Prague with an officer ...

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Dina Ross reviews 'The Amazing Mrs. Livesey' by Freda Marnie Nicholl

Dina Ross
24 May 2016

Ethel Livesey was a piece of work. By the time she stood trial in 1946, she had already served several terms in prison. The serial fraudster had accumulated more than ...

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Michael McGirr reviews 'The Fighter' by Arnold Zable

Michael McGirr
23 May 2016

Arnold Zable may be unafraid of pain, but he is no masochist. Masochism wants to control pain: Zable is much more of a liberator. Since the publication of his first book ...

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Suzanne Falkiner reviews 'Outback Penguin: Richard Lane's Barwell diaries' edited by Elizabeth Lane et al.

Suzanne Falkiner
26 April 2016

On 7 September 1922, seventeen-year-old Richard Lane left England on a six-week voyage to Australia, not to set foot in his home country again for three and a half years. For much of the intervening time he would work as a government-funded 'Barwell Boy', or indentured farm labourer, on small rural holdings outside Adelaide and in western New South Wales.

Ri ... More

Diana Glenn reviews 'Dante: The story of his life' by Marco Santagata

Diana Glenn
26 April 2016

This sumptuous volume by Marco Santagata, professor of Italian Literature at the University of Pisa, offers the reader a richly documented and often gripping account of the development, peregrinations, and shifting fortunes of the celebrated poet Durante (Dante) Alighieri. Comprising ten chapters, the volume has an internal division in two parts, with the first cove ... More

Michael Morley reviews 'Nicholas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music' by Vincent Giroud

Michael Morley
30 March 2016

In an interview from 1978, the year of Nicolas Nabokov's death (he was born in 1903 in Lubcza, now in Belarus), which is included in the epilogue to this volume, Isaiah Berlin summed up some of the qualities of the cosmopolitan figure he seems to have considered his best friend:

He was a very cultivated man: I found him to be one of the most civiliz ... More

James Ley reviews 'The Lives of the Novelists' by John Sutherland

James Ley
21 March 2012

Here are some of the interesting things you may learn if you read John Sutherland’s Lives of the Novelists:

that James Fenimore Cooper was expelled from Yale for training a donkey to sit in the professor’s chair

that Evelyn Waugh once attempted suicide but was prevented from drowning by a passing shoal o ... More

Nigel Starck: Proud Australian Boy

John Ellison Davies
20 January 2012

From Changi to the Tower of London

John Ellison Davies

 

Proud Australian Boy: A Biography of Russell Braddon
by Nigel Starck
Australian Scholarly Publishing, $34.95 pb, 284 pp, 9781921875403

 

Russell Braddon was part of the first wave of postwar Aust ... More

James Ley reviews 'James Joyce: A Biography' by Gordon Bowker

James Ley
23 August 2011

Literary biography is an often derided genre. Writers, in particular, tend to be suspicious, if not openly hostile, toward what they are apt to regard as a secondary or parasitic form. And there are valid reasons for this wariness. The assumption behind a biography is, reasonably enough, that the writer’s life informs the work, but establishing the precise relevan ... More

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