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Book Review: Private Lives of the Ancient Mariner by Molly Lefebure

Evelyn Toynton asks why Molly Lefebure, 40 years after passionately defending Coleridge, has now turned against the poet

By Evelyn Toynton   December 2013

A biographer’s relationship with a subject can be as turbulent as a love affair. If the subject is a great writer, the initial phase often has all the ecstatic elements of a romance. Sometimes, as research uncovers discreditable facts, disillusionment can follow. Robert Frost’s anointed biographer was so horrified by what he learned about Frost’s behaviour to his wife and children that he could not forgive him; his three-volume life of Frost devolved into one long, furious indictment. But, with any luck, disillusionment will be succeeded by a…

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