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Life Class

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Michael Holroyd has written the lives of Lytton Strachey, Augustus John and Bernard Shaw, as well as two group biographies, and has continually pushed the biographer’s art to new imaginative planes. In an event co-hosted with the British Library, five fellow biographers, all of whom have been garlanded with awards and prizes, gather to celebrate his eightieth birthday.

Patrick French is the author of biographies of Younghusband and V.S. Naipaul; his next subject is Doris Lessing. Richard Holmes’s subjects include Shelley, Coleridge, Mary Wollstonecraft and the scientists of the Romantic period; he is currently writing about Ada Lovelace. Earlier this year, Ruth Scurr followed her biography of Robespierre with a life of John Aubrey – described by Hilary Mantel as 'a book to reread and cherish'. Jenny Uglow’s subjects include Elizabeth Gaskell, Hogarth, the engraver Thomas Bewick, and the pioneering group the Lunar Men; she is working on a biography of Edward Lear. In a discussion chaired by Hermione Lee, who has written lives of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton and Penelope Fitzgerald, and who is working on a biography of Tom Stoppard, they pay tribute to Holroyd’s achievements, and explore aspects of the biographer’s craft.

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