Towards a Poetics of Literary Biography

  • Michael Benton

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Michael Benton
    Pages 1-10
  3. Michael Benton
    Pages 11-31
  4. Michael Benton
    Pages 32-48
  5. Michael Benton
    Pages 49-73
  6. Michael Benton
    Pages 91-117
  7. Michael Benton
    Pages 118-140
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 141-165

About this book


Drawing upon a wide range of biographies of literary subjects, from Shakespeare and Wordsworth to William Golding and V.S. Naipaul, this book develops a poetics of literary biography based on the triangular relationships of lives, works and times and how narrative operates in holding them together. Biography is seen as a hybrid genre in which historical and fictional elements are imaginatively combined. It considers the roles of story-telling, factual data in the art of life-writing, and the literariness of its language. It includes a case study of the biography of Ellen Terry, discussion of the controversial relationship between a subject's life and works, 'biographical criticism' and, through the issue of gender, the social and cultural changes biographies reflect. It frames a poetics on the basis of its strategy and tactics and demonstrates how the literal truth of verifiable data and the poetic truth of what is narrated are interdependent.


bibliography biography Narrative poetics

Authors and affiliations

  • Michael Benton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SouthamptonUK

Bibliographic information