Biography: A Very Short Introduction looks at the origins and development of biographical writing. Why do certain people and historical events arouse so much interest? How can biographies be compared with history and works of fiction? Does a biography need to be true? Is it acceptable to omit or conceal things? Does the biographer need to personally know the subject? Must a biographer be subjective? This VSI considers the cultural and historical background of different types of biographies, looking at the factors that affect biographers and whether there are different strategies, ethics, and principles required for writing about one person compared to another.
Keywords: Francis Bacon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Richard Ellmann, Samuel Johnson, Martin Luther King, John Gibson Lockhart, Nelson Mandela, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Rebecca West