Cover: How To Do Biography: A Primer, from Harvard University PressCover: How To Do Biography in PAPERBACK

How To Do Biography

A Primer

Product Details


$22.00 • £19.95 • €20.95

ISBN 9780674066151

Publication Date: 10/22/2012


400 pages

5-1/2 x 7 inches


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The book is full of good advice and interesting stories.—Owen Richardson, The Age

[How To Do Biography] offers a well-written, sensible, and, given its brevity, fairly encompassing assessment of what it is that a biographer does and how he goes about doing it… Hamilton is quite eloquent and persuasive in discussing how things come around at the end, not only at death, but after, when the life meets posterity.—Sven Birkerts, The Boston Globe

This marvelous work—basically, a how-to book—is comprehensive in its treatment of everything necessary to creating a published biography. Hamilton, who has authored biographies of Field Marshall Montgomery, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton, here leaves nothing unsaid on the subject. He thoroughly details biography’s agenda and motivation and describes its target audience, who will expect something of a revelation concerning the human condition… He additionally scrutinizes autobiography and memoir writing, the consequence of telling the truth, and biography’s afterlife. The exceptional excerpts Hamilton selects from published biographies to illustrate his points are both edifying and entertaining.—Robert Kelly, Library Journal

Drawing instruction from his own lifetime of biographic work and others’—including Samuel Johnson, Robert Caro, David McCullough, Hermione Lee, Edmund Morris, and others whom Hamilton has admired, known and worked with—the author takes readers on an intellectual journey through the creative process, from conception to publishing… Hamilton’s passion, lyricism and collection of telling anecdotes make this ‘short book of advice’ an unexpected page-turner; it’s hard not to get caught up in the author’s romantic vision of biography, a form he believes has nearly as many permutations as music. Elucidating not just the dos and don’ts of biography, but also the whys and hows, Hamilton has created a motivating, empowering guide for writers (and fans) of the genre.Publishers Weekly (starred review)

No one writing biography can afford to ignore this edifying book. Nigel Hamilton has the depth and breadth of experience to write about a genre that he champions… While this is a ‘how-to’ book, even the most seasoned biographer will find much of value about choosing a subject; doing proposals for biographies; handling interviewing; negotiating the perils of publishing unauthorized biographies; managing biographical narratives; writing with an audience in mind; and the nexus between memoir, autobiography, and biography.—Carl Rollyson,

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