Biographies

Biography is an almost writer-proof art. Structure and raison d’être are taken care of in advance. The form—someone is born, does stuff, dies—is as rigid and soothing as the sonnet. Authors write biographies, and we read them for the same reason we gossip: the unquenchable desire to know other people’s business. No wonder the shelves of bookstores groan with biographies. What could be more compelling? Read more »

My Grandfather, The Mormon Apostle

Discovering a giant in the family

Emerson wrote that “there is properly no history; only biography,” so my brother and sister and I knew that the revered collection of diaries and papers that had once belonged to our grandfather, which during most of our early lives was in a closet in an upstairs bedroom, contained some serious stuff. Our mother was a professional journalist, and it was always assumed that she would write her father’s story. But she intended instead to write a novel based on his life.Read more »

Books We Think You’ll Like

Ernest Hemingway and His World

by Anthony Burgess Charles Scribner’s Sons, 144 pages, photographs, $10.95 Read more »

Last Footnotes

Catherine Drinker Bowen—historian, musician, and most of all biographer—said in our sister magazine, HORIZON , in an article written shortly before her death, that all of her biographical heroes were possessed by a sense of urgency.Read more »