Biographical Fiction

A short way into this intriguing novel, author Ruby J. Murray cites Virginia Woolf on the subject of biography. According to Murray’s protagonist, Woolf called it ‘a plodding art’: ‘Every life, she wrote, should open with a list of facts … a stately parade of the real. Births, deaths and marriages ...

... (read more)

In this inventive début novel, Pip Smith recounts the multiple lives of Eugenia Falleni, the ‘man-woman’ who in 1920, as Harry Crawford, was convicted of murdering his first wife, Annie Birkett. Smith employs various types of text–sketches, newspaper articles, witness statements – alongside third-person accounts – to embroider an archive rich in narrative ...

... (read more)

Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom

by
March 2017, no. 389

Goldie Goldbloom has an eye for the dramatic and the morbid. Her novel about the real-life love affair, beginning in 1904, between artists Gwen John and Auguste Rodin, thirty-six years her senior, begins with a list of seventeen women – including Camille Claudel, Isadora Duncan, and Lady Victoria Sackville-West – whom Rodin allegedly bedded. One, we learn, was h ...

Percy Grainger has been the subject of a number of books (most notably a 1976 biography by John Bird), a play (A Whip Around for Percy Grainger, 1982) by Thérèse Radic, and a feature film, Passion (1999), by Peter Duncan. He was an avid letter-writer, and his correspondence has been anthologised and critiqued. Thanks to his eccentric way of life and sometimes erratic behaviour and opinions – his famously close relationship with his mother, Rose, his self-flagellation, dubious theories of race and culture – the composer has also long been the subject of salaciousspeculation. Grainger was a large personality, and conjecture about his habits and personal tastes has often over-whelmed considerations of his modest, yet important, output as a composer and arranger.

... (read more)

Judith Armstrong, a Russian and French scholar, has translated the diaries of Tolstoy’s wife, Sonya, to form the focus of her second novel. Armstrong combines an intimate knowledge of Russian literature with a close reading of the couple’s diaries to create a convincing portrait of their volatile relationship through forty-eight years of marriage.

... (read more)