Biographies Quotes

Biographies Quotes by Tim Hansel, Theodor Haecker, Clara Barton, Charles Darwin, Claire Tomalin, Joseph Brodsky and many others.

Our theology must become biography.
One of the most arrogant undertakings, to my mind, is to write the biography of a man which pretends to go beyond external facts and gives the inmost motives. One of the most mendacious is autobiography.
Others are writing my biography, and let it rest as they elect to make it. I have lived my life, well and ill, always less well than I wanted it to be but it is, as it is, and as it has been; so small a thing, to have had so much about it!
The Times is getting more detestable (but that is too weak word) than ever.
Writing Charles Dickens‘ biography is like writing five biographies.
The real biographies of poets are like those of birds, almost identical – their data are in the way they sound. A poet‘s biography lies in his twists of language, in his meters, rhymes, and metaphors.
I suppose I’m proudest of my novels for what’s imagined in them. I think the world of my imagination is a richer and more interesting place than my personal biography.
The man who walks with Henslow.
A surprising number [of novels] have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily-against which a law ought to be passed.
I’m an avid biography reader.
I am not aware that I have deserved any notoriey, and I have no taste for its buzz.
Always live your life with your biography in mind.
My father was highbrow: writing long biographies of Dante and stuff like that. Ghostwriting sportsman memoirs? That was sort of the lowest of the low.
Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aide to the life of faith may be Christian biographies.
The biographies are very enlightening because you realise, “Oh my God, all these people I’ve admired – and tried to emulate even – when I was younger died tragically from substance abuse.
I thought of the one thing about home that I missed, my dad‘s study with its built-in, floor-to-ceiling shelves sagging with thick biographies and the black leather chair that kept me just uncomfortable enough to keep from feeling sleepy as I read.
I do read on holiday, but it tends to be very lowbrow. I’m into really camp biographies, and I’m a shameless fan of Jilly Cooper.
Biographies are, in their nature, far more difficult to make into films than novels, because novels come with plots constructed and dialogue written, whereas I don’t invent dialogue for my subjects or plot their lives for them.
A new biography came out that says that in high school Obama was a huge pothead … Mitt Romney had to respond to this and said, ‘It is appalling that Obama spent his teenage years goofing around and smoking pot when he should have been pinning down gay kids and cutting their hair.
The art of biography is different from geography. Geography is about maps, but biography is about chaps.
That requires quite an imaginative leap because it’s hard for me to imagine that my biography would be of much interest to anyone, and because I’m a fairly private person, the notion doesn’t appeal to me.
When asked what he meant by a miracle: Oh, anything with a probability of less than 20%.
The biographies of the great rarely report much about the nanny, but for many, she will have played a crucial role in their formative years.
As an eight-year-old, I would listen to stories and biographies of Charles Darwin and Galileo. I also went to wonderful schools and had great teachers who inspired me.
I read so ravenously that I would read through whole categories. I was crazy about reading biographies. […] I think biographies are very urgent to children.
There ain’t nothing that breaks up homes, country and nations like somebody publishing their memoirs
Like thousands of other boys, I had a little chemical laboratory in our cellar and think that some of our friends thought me a bit crazy.
I have been devoured all my life by an incurable and burning impatience: and to this day find all oratory, biography, operas, films, plays, books, and persons, too long.
But nothing ever put ‘Hoppy’ in the shade. No one could fail to recognize in the little figure… the authentic gold of intellectual inspiration, the Fundator et Primus Abbas of biochemistry in England.
Biography is to give a man some kind of shape after his death.
Most of society thinks that biography is destiny, that the past equals the future, and of course it does if you live there…but what we really have to remind ourselves is that decision is the ultimate power.
The Holocaust is a central event in many people’s lives, but it also has become a metaphor for our century. There cannot be an end to speaking and writing about it. Besides, in Israel, everyone carries a biography deep inside him.
Siamese twins are interesting because they are the only people who can write a biography and an autobiography at the same time.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies. Their cousins can tell you nothing about them. They lived in their writings, and sotheir house and street life was trivial and commonplace. If you would know their tastes and complexions, the most admiring of their readers most resembles them.
Along with all those books about Lincoln, Obama might read some biographies of Napoleon. The general who established the Legion d’Honneur understood that people fought as much for medals as for morals.
I think psychologically [Margaret Thatcher] is really worth studying. I am reading Charles Moore‘s biography of her, and he has gotten us right there with a woman who lived the unexamined life, and lived it deliberately, and who has contempt for history, even her own.
I had to do the book because there was an unauthorised biography which didn’t tell it like it was.
I only read biographies, metaphysics and psychology. I can dream up my own fiction.
The reason I moved to Nashville was because I was reading biographies of a lot of my country music heroes, and I thought it would be better to actually go where the history was, as opposed to just reading about it.
The reality is, if you go to the library and read biographies, thousands of people have changed, radically changed. St. Augustine was one of them. He lived a terrible a life for the first 33 years, and then he radically changed.
Elizabeth Rothra’s excellent biography of Charles Torrey Simpson restates his philosophies about the intrinsic value of natural ecosystems like the Everglades. No one knew better than he the history of the plants and animals of South Florida or conveyed it with more humor and enthusiasm.
For me too, the periodic table was a passion. … As a boy, I stood in front of the display for hours, thinking how wonderful it was that each of those metal foils and jars of gas had its own distinct personality.
I read every biography [of Jackie Kennedy] I could get my hands on.
I never did write a biography, and I don’t exactly know how to set about it; you see I have to be accurate and keep to the facts, a most difficult thing for a writer of fiction.
In my downtime, you’ll mostly find me curled up with a book. I love reading biographies. My favourites are those of Dalai Lama, Osama Bin Laden, and Einstein.
His [Erwin SchrГ¶dinger’s] private life seemed strange to bourgeois people like ourselves. But all this does not matter. He was a most lovable person, independent, amusing, temperamental, kind and generous, and he had a most perfect and efficient brain.
When I hear a politician speak biographically, I never know what’s part of the campaign biography narrative that’s been carefully crafted.
Behind each biography there should always be a rich treasury of unformulated knowledge, a tapestry that has not been unrolled.
This theory [the oxygen theory] is not as I have heard it described, that of the French chemists, it is mine (elle est la mienne); it is a property which I claim from my contemporaries and from posterity.
There’s no biography so interesting as the one in which the biographer is present.
Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.
If after I die, people want to write my biography, there is nothing simpler. They only need two dates: the date of my birth and the date of my death. Between one and another, every day is mine.
When I was younger, when I was at school, I did read a lot of fiction. I think as you get older perhaps you’re interested in essays and biographies and things like that. I think it’s just important to just read as much as you can.
That was par for the course but I also found that commissions were being canceled and in fact I considered this directly libelous – I write biographies for a living as well as being a journalist – for a non fiction book to be called fiction from beginning to end.
I love to read different books on completely different subjects at the same time. I cannot focus on one. I read a few pages of literature, then I jump to philosophy and at the same time I’m reading biographies of Mahler.
I’d be happy to have my biography be the stories of my dogs. To me, to live without dogs would mean accepting a form of blindness.
Serious biographies need to have a historical base in facts.
My reflection, when I first made myself master of the central idea of the ‘Origin’, was, ‘How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!’
You can use a biography to examine political power, but only if you pick the right guy.
The past exudes legend: one can’t make pure clay of time’s mud. There is no life that can be recaptured wholly; as it was.Which is to say that all biography is ultimately fiction.
Read. Read. Read. Read. Read great books. Read poetry, history, biography. Read the novels that have stood the test of time. And read closely.
The facts of a person’s life will, like murder, come out.
Norman Sherry
I can find my biography in every fable that I read.
Biography is one of the new terrors of death.
Inthehistorian’sview biography isa kindoffrogspawn it takes ten thousand biographies to make one small history.
Michael Holroyd
We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents…Sometimes the ‘unfinisheds’ are among the most beautiful symphonies.
I’m interested in the truth, and unauthorized biographies are not. Yes, I would like to correct those errors someday.
I wrote a novel called “Blonde,” which is about Norma Jean Baker, who becomes Marilyn Monroe, which I called a fictitious biography. That uses the material as if it were myth – that Marilyn Monroe is like this mythical figure in our culture.
When you write biographies, whether it’s about Ben Franklin or Einstein, you discover something amazing: They are human.
The difference between authorized and unauthorized biographies is the difference between riding in carriage or squatting in steerage.
…I believe there exists, & I feel within me, an instinct for the truth, or knowledge or discovery, of something of the same nature as the instinct of virtue, & that our having such an instinct is reason enough for scientific researches without any practical results ever ensuing from them.
My lectures were highly esteemed, but my operations less thought of, so that I am of opinion that my operations rather kept down my practice, than increased it.
Ironically, Henry James‘ biography comforts me & I long to make known to him his posthumous reputation he wrote, in pain, gave all his life (which is more than I could think of doing I have Ted, will have children but few friends) & the critics insulted & mocked him, readers didn’t read him.
Let This Voice Be Heard fulfills the mandate of biography at its best because Maurice Jackson has captured the history of a great moral movement‘s origins in a single, extraordinary life. An indispensable addition to the antislavery bibliography.
I first wrote a biography of Thomas Carlyle, and it turned out I loved writing biographies and had a talent for it. I believed I had a contribution to make.
Biography, too, is liable to the same objection; it should be autobiography. Let us not, as the Germans advise, endeavor to go abroad and vex our bowels that we may be somebody else to explain him. If I am not I, who will be?
On the trail of another man, the biographer must put up with finding himself at every turn; any biography uneasily shelters an autobiography within it.
Paul Murray Kendall
Biography is history seen through the prism of a person.
Louis Fischer
Biographies of British pop celebrities are terrible.
There was never a good biography of a good novelist. There couldn’t be. He is too many people if he’s any good.
Maybe I was young and ‘cute‘ (after all, I was only twenty then), but I’ve learned over the years that when you put white lab coats on chemists, they all look alike!
I admired Bohr very much. We had long talks together, long talks in which Bohr did practically all the talking.
I read a lot. I especially read memoirs and biographies. It’s very helpful when you’re thinking about what’s possible and what exists in human behavior; if it exists out there then it can exist on the stage. I really try to go to a lot of concerts. A lot of live events. I just try to keep my ears really, really open.
I love reading – inspirational books, leadership books, biographies. I exercise a lot and put on my audio book. Even If you would offer me a million dollars for my iPod I wouldn’t give it to you, because I have some great things on it.
I’ve always been a person that thinks nonfiction is more interesting than fiction, I love to read presidential biographies.
In a fit at the bookstore one day, I bought all my favourite composers‘ biographies: Schubert, Massenet, Wolf. I’ve still not had a chance to read them; it breaks my heart. But when you travel so much, you just can’t take that many books with you.
A form of art that I like is portraiture. I’ve been thinking about portraiture, and its relationship to writing and literature, biography and autobiography, and so that will be my next thing.
Sin in the Second City is a masterful history lesson, a harrowing biography, and – best of all – a superfun read. The Everleigh story closely follows the turns of American history like a little sister. I can’t recommend this book loudly enough.
Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography.
I will frankly tell you that my experience in prolonged scientific investigations convinces me that a belief in God-a God who is behind and within the chaos of vanishing points of human knowledge-adds a wonderful stimulus to the man who attempts to penetrate into the regions of the unknown.
The best interviews like the best biographies should sing the strangeness and variety of the human race.
I sometimes think that, since I started writing biographies, I’ve had more of a life in books than I have had in my real life.
To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself.
What’s bad about my biography? My father was a worker, my brothers, too, and I have always honestly served my country.
I possess every good quality, but the one that distinguishes me above all is modesty.
Charles Richet
Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
My first biography written in ’73 was not ‘Journey To The Moon.’ It was ‘Return To Earth.’ Because for me, that was the more difficult taskdisappointment.
Eleanor Marx was her father’s first biographer. All subsequent biographies of Karl Marx, and most of Engels, draw on her work as their primary sources for the family history, often without knowing it. I think if she’d been a son, she would have been referenced more.
Formerly Milton‘s Paradise Lost had been my chief favourite, and in my excursions during the voyage of the Beagle, when I could take only a single small volume, I always chose Milton.
unloved women have no biographies– they have histories
Biography lends to death a new terror.
I read more books for research purposes, whether its a fictionalized biography of Johannes Gutenberg or a stack of urban fantasies.
There’s the typical books, Moby Dick and, I guess in my adult life I began to read biographies more than fiction. I started to want to relate to other people’s lives, things that had really happened.
Jean Toomer is a phantom of the Harlem Renaissance. Pick up any general study of the literature written by Afro-Americans, and there is the name of Jean Toomer. In biographies and memoirs of Harlem Renaissance figures, his name is invoked as if he had been one of the sights along Lenox Avenue.
But a lot of times, people die how they live. And so last words tell me a lot about who people were, and why they became the sort of people biographies get written about.
Biography is the best form of history.
His mother‘s favorite, he possessed the self-confidence that told him he would achieve something worth while in life, and the ambition to do so, though for long the direction this would take remained uncertain.
I enjoy biographies and whatnot. I’m also a fan of presidential libraries. I’ve visited quite a few of them, especially the more modern ones.
When you read a biography remember that the truth is never fit for publication.
A life that is worth writing at all is worth writing minutely.
I used to devour biographies of people like Natalie Wood and Marilyn.
Biographies of me have usually been compiled from old newspaper clips, untruthful publicity stories, and reminiscences of people who claim to have known me well.
Once you touch the biographies of human beings, the notion that political beliefs are logically determined collapses like a pricked balloon.
One puts off the biography like you put off death. To write an autobiography is to etch the words on your own gravestone.
History is too much about wars; biography too much about great men.
When I was younger I only read sports books. I loved the biographies that told how athletes developed. When I got into coaching, I did start to read more instructional books, but I was always more interested in the people behind the ideas.
Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t.
Memoirs give the knowledge about the author and his environment. They are different from biography. Memoirs do not get ahead, and the man who writes a biography looks at his future like at a very simple thing.
Biography should be written by an acute enemy.
Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.
Charles Wheelan
An autobiography is only ‘a sort of life’ – it may contain less errors of fact than a biography, but it is of necessity even more selective: it begins later and it ends prematurely.
Unusual financial activity: none, unless you count the fact that someone in the family is way too into Civil War biographies. (Can this be a possible indication of Confederate insurgents still living and working in Virginia? Must research further.)
in the newspapers I read a biography about an American. He left his whole huge fortune to factories and for the positive sciences, his skeleton to the students at the academy there, and his skin to make a drum so as to have the American national anthem drummed on it day and night.
Some of those drawn into the holy war had been secular nationalists only a few years before. If one looks at the biographies of these people, remarkable continuities are revealed.
Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.
I love foolsexperiments. I am always making them.
I read everything that Tolkien wrote, and also read biographies of him. I was fascinated by his experiences in World War I, which includes the loss of life of some of his very, very close friends. I think he writes about that a lot in ‘The Hobbit‘ and ‘The Lord of the Rings.’
I had no expectation that the Prince would offer me the unprecedented and unfettered access to the original and entirely untapped sources on which this biography is based.
I’d put the most money on Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson – and not just because we’ll probably still be waiting for the final volume in 2017.
There are two classes of authors: the one write the history of their times, the other their biography.
Biographies are no longer written to explain or explore the greatness of the great. They redress balances, explore secret weaknesses, demolish legends.
I have had the unfortunate experience of having someone write an unauthorised biography of me. Half of it is lies and the other half is badly written. My feeling is that if I’m going to write my life story, I ought to have my life first.
Good people are seldom fully recognised during their lifetimes, and here, there are serious problems of corruption. One day it will be realised that my findings should have been acknowledged. It was difficult, but she always smiled when asked why she went on when recognition eluded her in her own country.
Every novel is a biography. Well, then, this is a novel [The Paper Men] which is a biography that is pretending to be an autobiography. That’s what you could say about it.
[Thomas Henry] Huxley is a very genial, comfortable being-yet with none of the noisy and windy geniality of some folks here, whom you find with their backs turned when you are responding to the remarks that they have made you.
According to Nietzche,” said a sharp new voice, making them all jump, “philosophy is the biography of the philosopher.
I always use primary sources, in addition to reading biographies and other materials.
The most uninteresting part of the biography of a composer is his childhood. All those preludes are the same and the reader hurries on to the fugue.
At the Sex Institute in Bloomington, Indiana, they were a phenomenal help, too. We went out there for a few days, and they gave us access to materials. And the biographies, there are four or five, ranging from very poor to excellent.
It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that historical Jesus research is a very safe place to do theology and call it history, to do autobiography and call it biography.
It is also one of the pleasures of oral biography, in that the reader, rather than editor, is jury.
biography is essentially a collaborative art, the latest biographer collaborating with all those who wrote earlier.
I will read biographies or autobiographies while I’m writing, but mostly I put books in a to-read queue, like Rachel Cusk’s new novel, “Outline.”
When I read biographies, I’m only interested in the first few chapters. I’m not interested in when people become successful. I’m interested in what made them successful.
But the involuntary tricks of memory and the voluntary ones of imagination make always such terrible havoc of facts that truth, be it ever so much sought and cared for, appears in history and biography only in a more or less disfigured condition.
Frederick Niecks
Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography.
I’ve been a lifelong horror fan, but at the same time, I would say 90 percent of my reading is biographies and nonfiction history.
Six-hundred-page biographies of German theologians aren’t known to fly off the shelves.
[On writing biography:] If you wish to see a person you must not start by seeing through him.
Biographies by preachers are of no value. If they admire a man they always make him a saint, while if they dislike one, they always make him a demon.
I see myself as writing biographies, the complete story of someone’s life.
I read everything: fiction, history, science, mathematics, biography, travel.
There are things in our lives that take up an enormous importance and that become very dominant effects in our biography. And that comes out of a variety of reasons, but fundamentally comes out of how that particular experience connects with your effective systems of response.
We do not learn much from learned books, but from true, sincere, human books, from frank and honest biographies.
In these days a man is nobody unless his biography is kept so far posted up that it may be ready for the national breakfast-table on the morning after his demise.
Biographies never feel as real as the best fiction. There is such a discontinuity between the narrative and the material it comes from, which is always such a mixed bag of letters, recollections, and other data.
The biographies of the great men see their excesses as signs of their greatness.
The small force that it takes to launch a boat into the stream should not be confused with the force of the stream that carries it along: but this confusion appears in nearly all biographies.
Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness… It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.
The whole value of history, of biography, is to increase my self-trust, by demonstrating what man can be and do.
Writing a biography is not a love affair. It’s not a marriage. It’s a job, it’s a piece of work.
Hermione Lee
The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career; yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me 30 miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have done, and on such a trifle as the shape of my nose.
All history is biography.
I had lost faith in biography.
I very rarely read any fiction. I love biographies; I read about all kinds of people. I love theology and some philosophy.
Young man, if I could remember the names of these particles, I would have been a botanist.
I enjoy reading biographies because I want to know about the people who messed up the world.
I started out as a writer of fiction, but nobody wanted to publish my work as a young man. So I decided to put my interest in the narrative writing of biographies.
Nothing can be more improving to a young naturalist, than a journey in a distant country.
Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading.
Narratives are not fixed. We change our narratives for ourselves and we change them not necessarily deliberately. In other words, some people do, some people will constantly reconstruct their biography for external purposes, it’s a very interesting political ploy.
If you have to read to cheer yourself up, read biographies of writers who went insane.
I am trying to make clear through my writing something which I believe: that biography- history in general- can be literature in the deepest and highest sense of that term.
I have not much interest in anyone’s personal history after the tenth year, not even my own. Whatever one was going to be was all prepared before that.
When you read a history or biography you are entitled to imagine that it is as accurate as the authors can make it. That research has gone into it and we say “This is a history of the civil war, this is a biography of Lincoln” whatever. But you don’t make any such supposition when you say “This is a historical novel.”
I wish I had my beta-blockers handy.
Each of us needs an adequate biography: How do I put together into a coherent image the pieces of my life? How do I find the basic plot of my story?
Eight years ago, I was drawn into Keats‘s world by Andrew Motion’s biography. Soon I was reading back and forth between Keats’s letters and his poems. The letters were fresh, intimate and irreverent, as though he were present and speaking. The Keats spell went very deep for me.
No one reaches the Oval Office without a great deal of admiration for the institution – and himself – so it’s unsurprising that sitting presidents favor the biographies of former presidents.
Tycho, we’re about to achieve a tremendous victory we don’t want.” “We’ll put that in your biography. General Antilles was so good he couldn’t fail when he tried to.” “Thanks.” Wedge & Tycho
Biography is a very definite region bounded on the north by history, on the south by fiction, on the east by obituary, and on the west by tedium.
My songs form a kind of biography or diary of my life as they are about people I have loved and people I only knew in my heart, places I have seen only for a moment and places I have lived all my life.
I’m getting very sorry for the Devil and his disciples such as the good Le Chiffre. The devil has a rotten time and I always like to be on the side of the underdog. We don’t give the poor chap a chance…the Devil had no prophets to write his Ten Commandments and no team of authors to write his biography.
A woman’s biography – with about eight famous historical exceptions – so often turns out to be the story of a man and the woman who helped his career.
biography cannot be separated from autobiography: that is, the life written about is inextricably entangled with the life of the biographer.
Linda Simon
[FlГјrscheim] was good at unanswerable arguments.
[On writing biography:] … every human life is at once so complex and so simple, so perplexing and so clear, so superficial and so profound, that any attempt to present it as a unified, consistent whole, to enclose it within a rigid frame, inevitably tempts one to cheat or to falsify.
In the academic world, biographies of these great figures of the past fell out of favor in the 1960s, when there was a turn toward social history, which meant the history of the voiceless and faceless. But the public at large never embraced the idea that these dead white guys should be abandoned.
Some Western biographies are apologist, and do not portray the negative side at all.
Paintings invariably sum up; photographs usually do not. Photographic images are pieces of evidence in an ongoing biography or history. And one photograph, unlike one painting, implies that there will be others.
While writing my first 90 books, I was magazine editor, publisher, book publisher, executive, etc., so I was established in publishing. three of my seven or so books were biographies of sports stars and really opened doors for me in that area.
Many heroes lived before Agamemnon; but all are unknown and unwept, extinguished in everlasting night, because they have no spirited chronicler.
For three days now this angel, almost too heavenly for earth has been my fiancГ©e … Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant colours. Upon his engagement to Johanne Osthof of Brunswick; they married 9 Oct 1805.
I love being in the archives, traveling, sitting in dusty places and looking at books with brittle pages. I love reading biographies and researching, to make myself informed about whatever political or historical time I’m writing about. From there, a lot of the emotional truths about my characters emerge.
A painting that is an act is inseparable from the biography of the artist.
After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.
When I was growing up, I read Britney Spears‘ and Mariah Carey’s biographies. I just wanted to see how they did it because I was so eager to get into the biz.
Unfortunately, I’m not a history buff. I don’t read biographies, except of some of those writers whom I’ve collected over the years – particularly Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller, people like Charles Bukowski and John Fante and David Foster Wallace.
A new biography of Madonna came out last week, and apparently the biography lists all the men she’s slept with. The book is apparently called the Manhattan Telephone Directory.
My parents did give me a lot of books – biographies of Marie Curie – and I did read them, because I was interested.
Biography is the only true history.
I used to drive around looking at the big houses, wondering how they got there. I used to love biographies about successful business people, wondering how they got there. You start to realize that if they can do it, I can do it.
Between history and the novel stands biography, their unwanted offspring, which has brought a great embarrassment to them both.
Michael Holroyd
I’m not fond of biographies. I don’t like writing about myself.
I am a total sucker for an actor‘s autobiography/biography. I have probably read most of them.
Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.
When I was a boy, I began writing a biography of Shakespeare, and since then I’ve written a number of biographies of actors and famous people.
Occasionally a single anecdote opens a character; biography has its comparative anatomy, and a saying or a sentiment enables the skilful hand to construct the skeleton.
I discovered in writing the biography of Bill Clinton that it is actually easier to write a biography of someone who is dead. Although you can’t interview them, you have a fuller perspective on their whole life after they’re gone and people are more willing to talk about them.
There’s been a number of erroneous biographies, articles and so on written about Billy and we both thought it would be a good idea to produce a true one.
A typical biography relying upon individualsnotorious memories and the anecdotes they’ve invented contains a high degree of fiction, yet is considered ‘nonfiction.’
For a while I got into the South Pacific theater of World War II. I read “American Caesar” by William Manchester, the biography of General MacArthur. Because of that I ended up reading “Tales of the South Pacific” by James Michener and then because of that reading his “Hawaii.” That is what happens.
Since my mother is the type that’s called schizophrenogenic in the literature-she’s the one who makes crazy people, crazy children-I was awfully curious to find out why I didn’t go insane.
There is properly no history, only biography.
The immense majority of human biographies are a gray transit between domestic spasm and oblivion.
We do not go to bed in single pairs; even if we choose not to refer to them, we still drag there with us the cultural impedimenta of our social class, our parents’ lives, our bank balances, our sexual and emotional expectations, our whole biographies-all the bits and pieces of our unique existences.
In the late 1990s, I left the teaching field to write biographies and histories for young adults.
Most people when they have autobiographies, they’re not autobiographies, they’re biographies written by a ghost writer.
Why do we read biography? Why do we choose to write it? Because we are human beings, programmed to be curious about other human beings, and to experience something of their lives. This has always been so – look at the Bible, crammed with biographies, very popular reading.
I have a large collection of biographies about jazz musicians.
Bob Hope was an entertainment colossus, shrewd and influential well beyond show business. Richard Zoglin’s biography captures it all–the public and private Hope.
Even if you only want to write science fiction, you should also read mysteries, poetry, mainstream literature, history, biography, philosophy, and science.
I was a biography in constant motion, memory to the marrow of my bones.
I think that fiction and, as I say, history and biography are immensely important, not only for their own sake, because they provide a picture of life now and of life in the past, but also as vehicles for the expression of general philosophic ideas, religious ideas, social ideas.
Rich as we are in biography, a well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one; and there are certainly many more men whose history deserves to be recorded than persons willing and able to record it.
I got a four year scholarship to Harvard, and while I was there they wanted to groom me for work in the Star Wars program designing weapons ignited by hydrogen bombs. I didn’t want to do that. I thought about how many scientists had died in World War II.
There won’t be any biographies of me because, for only one reason, lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy.
The parallel circumstances and kindred images to which we readily conform our minds are, above all other writings, to be found in the lives of particular persons, and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography.
It means that no matter what you write, be it a biography, an autobiography, a detective novel, or a conversation on the street, it all becomes fiction as soon as you write it down.
Of all the events which constitute a person’s biography, there is scarcely one … to which the world so easily reconciles itself as to his death.
Sometimes I read a biography of some tempestuous artist and find myself longing for fireworks! booze! bloody fights!; I do think that life must be so much more thrilling when you’re actively miserable.
I don’t think of my books as being biographies. I never had any interest in doing a book just to write the life of a great man. I had zero interest in that. My interest is in power. How power works.
The consolation of reading biography: Most great men have led lives even more miserable than our own.
If you read the biography of any great man, you will always notice two things: His mother’s contribution in his progress and his teacher‘s contribution in his growth and development.
Women inspire me… so I enjoy women’s stories and biographies. I am interested in all women.
The biographies and autobiographies are on the whole more impressive than the fiction of the last two decades, but the freakish best sellers among them are least likely to withstand the test of time.
Harold Acton
There is no history; only biography.
We had all these famous writers in Sweden and from all over the world home at dinner. I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to be a highbrow writer as my father. He never, ever read anything like crime novels. He wrote biographies of Dante, James Joyce, August Strindberg and Joseph Conrad.
I did a lot before [being cast] because I knew how important it would be for playing somebody real, or attempting to – to show the team [the role] was something I would be fascinated to do. I read a couple of biographies and I watched everything I could find [about princess Margaret].
I don’t want to do the type of writing where I recite biography, parentage and education. I want to rise up from the words on the page and do something, hurt someone.
If you’re doing a biography, you try to stay as accurate as possible to reality. But you really don’t know what was going on in the person’s mind. You just know what was going on in the minds of people around him.
Biography – a system in which the contradictions of a human life are unified.
If all history is only an amplification of biography, the history of science may be most instructively read in the life and work of the men by whom the realms of Nature have been successively won.
Always live your life with your biography in mind,” Dad was fond of saying. “Naturally, it won’t be published unless you have a Magnificent Reason, but at the very least you will be living grandly.
I love biographies. I’m especially into stuff about Hollywood in the ’40s and ’50s. I find it fascinating and terrifying.
Katie Findlay
I love memoirs and biographies, learning about other people’s lives. Two of the ones that I loved so much were actually edited by the same person who edited my book, too. I loved ‘Angela‘s Ashes.’ I loved ‘Glass Castle‘ so much.
We’re all story-telling creatures, and also I think that’s the point about biography because the life is exemplary.
All of our theology must eventually become biography.
People are interested in people. They buy biographies; they don’t buy studies of presidencies.
To some extent, mythology is only the most ancient history and biography. So far from being false or fabulous in the common sense,it contains only enduring and essential truth, the I and you, the here and there, the now and then, being omitted. Either time or rare wisdom writes it.
A virtuoso performance. Scott Thompson’s biography of the soldier statesman Fidel V. Ramos illustrates the fascinating and complex geography of Filipino politics and its relation with the American hegemon. It’s first-rate scholarship and equally first-rate writing.
The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction. It seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.
Biographies of great, but especially of good men are most instructive and useful as helps, guides, and incentives to others. Some of the best are almost equivalent to gospels,–teaching high living ,high thinking, and energetic action, for their own and, the world’s good.
And if Henry Higgins is not the most reprehensible character ever written for the stage, that’s only because somewhere, somehow, someone is composing a musical biography of Ronald Reagan
Your biography becomes your biology.
I didn’t want to write a biographie romancee especially since I already write novels, nor did I want to challenge the rules of the biography game, arbitrary as those rules might be
There is no real escape from autobiography into biography. The self has to be faced, or we die.
The poetic beauty of Davy’s mind never seems to have left him. To that circumstance I would ascribe the distinguishing feature in his character, and in his discoveries,-a vivid imagination sketching out new tracts in regions unexplored, for the judgement to select those leading to the recesses of abstract truth.
Davies Gilbert
Kansas City Lightning succeeds as few biographies of jazz musicians have. . . This book is a magnificent achievement; I could hardly put it down.
A gentlemansleeps at his work. That’s what work’s for. Why do you think they have the SILENCE notices in the library? So as not to disturb me in my little nook behind the biography shelves.
All Philosophy is Biography
Find a great role model, perhaps someone who struggled and only really succeeded when older. Their biography and what they’ve done differently from you will help you. If such a person is willing to mentor you or at least allow you to work around them, great.
A biography should be a dissection and demonstration of how a particular human being was made and worked.
Just as there is nothing between the admirable omelet and the intolerable, so with autobiography.
As a business consultant, I am a voracious reader of self-help books, case studies of thriving companies, and the biographies and autobiographies of the world’s most successful people. I relentlessly implement the best ideas into my businesses.
Women are defined by their biography, and men are sacrosanct from their biography.
I wanted to be a poet when I was 20; I had no interest in fiction or biography and precious little interest in history, but those three elements in my life have become the most important.
It’s a feature of our age that if you write a work of fiction, everyone assumes that the people and events in it are disguised biography — but if you write your biography, it’s equally assumed you’re lying your head off.
The magnificent title of the Functional School of Anthropology has been bestowed on myself, in a way on myself, and to a large extent out of my own sense of irresponsibility.
Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories and criticism.
I greatly enjoy reading the biographies of scientists, and when doing so I always hope to learn the secrets of their success. Alas, those secrets generally remain elusive.
Life is a biography, not a series of disconnected moments, more or less pleasurable but increasingly tedious and unsatisfying unless one imposes a purposive pattern upon them.
What use is there for a biography of myself? I’m just a movie actor.
Well, in the first place, it leads to great anxiety as to whether it’s going to be correct or not … I expect that’s the dominating feeling. It gets to be rather a fever… At age 60, when asked about his feelings on discovering the Dirac equation.
My father, John Steinbeck, was a man who held human history in great reverence, and in particular the biographies of those people who had risked their lives, their fortunes, and their worldly honor to defend the rights and prerogatives of those who were powerless to defend themselves.
In writing biography, fact and fiction shouldn’t be mixed. And if they are, the fictional points should be printed in red ink, the facts printed in black ink.
I am not a historian. I don’t see what I do as being a rival to biography.
What would become of all historical biography if it was written only with consideration for other peoples’ feelings?
Dreadful is a poignant biography of a forgotten man who drank himself to death. It’s a brilliant evocation of a self-hating gay novelist in the 1940s whom Gore Vidal once considered a rival.
Carlyle uttered a pregnant truth when he said that the history of any country is in the biographies of the men who made it.
Biography can be the most middle-class of all forms, the judgment of little people avenging themselves on the great.
She [Chien-Shiung Wu] is a slave driver. She is the image of the militant woman so well known in Chinese literature as either empress or mother.
I would recommend you watch the movie ‘Jobs‘ starring Ashton Kutcher, if you don’t have time to read Jobs’s biography.
I’ve published many biographies over the years and enjoyed working with writers on their research, discussing it, thinking about it and how it revealed their subject – and one day the impulse came to me to write a life of someone. I made a long list of possible subjects and [ Barbara] Stanwyck was on the list.
Victoria Wilson
My price is five dollars for a miniature on ivory, and I have engaged three or four at that price. My price for profiles is one dollar, and everybody is willing to engage me at that price
For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding: it is the deepest part of autobiography.
Why should I be limited by my own biography?
Sir Humphrey Davy Abominated gravy. He lived in the odium Of having discovered sodium. Said to have been written as a schoolboy during a chemistry class at St. Paul‘s School.
Live your life as if you are writing your Biography.
I am a huge admirer of Elizabeth I, and this intriguing biography gives a wonderful picture of the era.
According to Kim Jong-Il’s biography, they say he has been constantly accused of dishonesty, drunkenness and sexual excess. So if he lived here, he could be in Congress.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.
People think that because a novel’s invented, it isn’t true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.
I’m writing my biography. It’s my business. This is what happened in my life, and I’m writing about it.
As an elected official who comes from the African-American community, there are some similarities. You are always trying to reconcile your own personal biography and affiliations with the demands of the broader democracy. And you need to make sure you are representing everybody.
I’ve always enjoyed reading history, particularly presidential biographies.
The richly cadenced prose is hypnotic, the research prodigious, the analysis acute, the mood spellbinding, and the cast of characters mythic in scale. I cannot conceive of a better book about Capitol Hill. An unforgettable, epic achievement in the art of biography.
I love biographies. I read Patti Smith‘s ‘Just Kids.’ I’m into that time frame in New York, the ’70s and ‘80s. In art school, I read ‘Close to the Knives,’ the autobiography of the artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz.
I have very positive memories of reading biographies of unusual Americans as a child.
With poets, the choice of words is invariably more telling than the story line; that’s why the best of them dread the thought of their biographies being written.
When I was 8 years old, I made my own encyclopedia of American biography – Johnny Appleseed, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Charles Lindbergh, my pantheon of favorite heroes. Then I would write my own things and sew them together and try to make my own book.
Almost any biography will have its useful suggestions for making life a success, but none better or more unfailing than the biography of Christ.
It can be a long gap between the emergence of fully researched historical biographies.
On the whole, most biographies about literary women tend to diagnose them.
I think that every so-called history book and film biography should be prefaced by the statement that what follows is the author’s rendition of events and circumstances.
If I were entering adulthood now instead of in the environment of fifty years ago, I would choose a career that kept me in touch with nature more than science. … Too few natural areas remain; both by intent and by indifference we have insulated ourselves from the wilderness that produced us.
Tyndall, … I must remain plain Michael Faraday to the last; and let me now tell you, that if accepted the honour which the Royal Society desires to confer upon me, I would not answer for the integrity of my intellect for a single year.
I have believed in the biographies I have written. I truly can tell you that they have influenced our society politically, culturally, socially.
All fiction is lies – if it weren’t, it would be biography, history, or reportage.
I don’t want to say that most rock bands live these formulaic biography existences – but they kinda do. There’s always a divorce. There’s always an OD. There’s always a bad business manager.
Oftentimes, if a writer really gets her hooks into me, I’ll want to read interviews, or listen to an interview, or read a literary biography or a memoir of some kind. And doing so almost always deepens my enjoyment of the author and her work.
You are a coward,’ she said, and with that one word wrote a denunciation, a biography, and a prophecy.
Davy was the type of all the jumped-up second-raters of all time.
I like contemporary American literature and I like biographies and I like jazz and I like baseball and I like writers who write about the human condition and sci-fi is just something that I happened into.
I just love biography, and I’m fascinated by people who have shifted our destinies or our points of view.
It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.
I do not think that one is likely to write a good biography unless one feels some sympathy with its subject.
I would love to do an unauthorized biography about Congress. It’s like a secret society up there.
For me writing biographies is impossible, unless they are brief and concise, and these are, I feel, the most eloquent.