What is the biography's relation to the performance aspect of identity, the individual's public role? ‘Public Roles’ explores the often difficult task of disentangling the public performance from the real person. This is explored in respect of different subjects for biography — literary biography, philosophers, and those whose lives are known for action and narrative rather than words or ideas. The importance of setting lives in their context is particularly acute when the subject is a leader or politician. This is illuminated by the lives of the banker, J. P. Morgan, and Stalin.