"Nigel Hamilton and Hans Renders' compact and companionable The ABC of Modern Biography is an essential guide, certain to be cherished by both readers and writers. I learned and laughed, and lingered over many an entry. Take it along on your own journey through life!" - Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller, The Peabody Sisters, and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
"For students of biography, for experts, and for anybody who's just interested in how lives of individuals tell the story of our time, this exquisite volume serves as road map - and provocative spur." - John A. Farrell, journalist and author of Richard Nixon: the Life, as well as Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, winner of the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Biography of the Year
"Over the last thirty years the forms and ambitions of modern biography have been expanding almost beyond recognition, and this sprightly ABC volume promises to take a fresh and exuberant overview of current developments. Nimble and non-academic, boldly arranged topic by topic, it will challenge many conventional assumptions about the way biographers actually work, and should provoke some fascinating discussions about the future of the genre. I welcome this feisty contribution to the ongoing biographical debate." -Richard Holmes
"The rise of biography is the literary event of our time: Hamilton and Renders are its pioneer scholars, and their compelling primer is a must read." - Joanny Moulin, President of the Biography Society, Institut Universitaire de France
"An incisive yet remarkably comprehensive introduction to the controversies and complexities of biography by two of the world's leading authorities on the subject. Contemporary examples of biographical practice are put into the context of the history of biography, beginning with Plutarch. No scholar or student of biography can afford to ignore this indispensable volume about an indispensable genre. Bravo!" - Carl Rollyson, biographer of Susan Sontag, Rebecca West, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Foot and William Faulkner
In this book - an ABC of the genre, with 26 entries - two renowned biographers and teachers take us on a tour, from A for Authorization to Z for Zigzagging to the End. In trenchant, witty entries they explore the good, the bad and the plain ugly in modern 'life writing' and the portrayal of real lives today - and how, across history and continents, we got here.
This book will fascinate general readers interested in how real lives are approached by biographers today in a multitude of media. It will make a much-needed contribution in academia, as well as providing an important text for students of history, language and literature, the arts, science and media. And, not least, for biographers trying to avoid the pitfalls of ignorance or ineptitude.
Nigel Hamilton, former Professor of Biography at de Montfort University and currently Senior Fellow in the McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of 27 works of biography and memoir, including the NYT bestselling JFK: Reckless Youth and Biography: A Brief History. Awarded the Whitbread Prize for Biography and Templer Medal for Military History, his Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942, was longlisted for the National Book Award in 2014. He is currently completing his "FDR at War" trilogy.
Hans Renders is Professor of History and Theory of Biography, as well as Director of the Biography Institute at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. Internationally well-known, he is jurist for many literary prizes, including the Plutarch Award and Erik Hazelhoff Biography Prize. He (co)author of many publications in the field of (literary)history and biography, including major biographies of the poets Jan Hanlo and Jan Campert, the Dutch resistance fighter. He is currently in cooperation with Sjoerd van Faassen writing the life of the artist Theo van Doesburg, founder of De Stijl.