Modernizing Lives: Experiments in English Biography, 1918-1939


Eight distinguished English writers- Lytton Strachey, Geoffrey Scott, David Cecil, Percy Lubbock, A. J. A. Symons, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and Harold Nicolson- all wrote biographies of great influence. Hoberman suggests that it is time to re-examine these people and their contribution to biography.

The biographers featured in this study were vastly different writers writing about people as diverse as Queen Elizabeth and Roger Fry, but they shared a common concern: "the reshaping of traditional biography into a more flexible, more artful form, able to accommodate modern ideas of self, of time, and of narration." These lives, written between the wars, no longer have the "serious," "joyless," "depressing similarity" that Virginia Woolf com plained about in Victorian biographies.

Between the wars a number of discoveries, gener al currents, personalities, and theories made tradi tional biography seem inadequate. No longer was the compilation of letters and autobiographical frag ments enough. Childhood became important, as did the unconscious, unwilled element in character. So cial forces became paramount.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Carbondale, IL
Publication year:
  • 1987


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.