Biography used to investigate the nature of talent; now it explores the social networks and collaborations through which reputations are madeby Philip Oltermann / April 23, 2006 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2006 issue of Prospect Magazine
A Night at the Majestic by Richard Davenport-Hines
The Yellow House by Martin Gayford
(Fig Tree, £18.99)
Rousseau’s Dog by David Edmonds & John Eidinow
In 1855, as she got ready to write the biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell jotted down a note to herself: “Get as many anecdotes as possible. If you love your reader and want to be read, get anecdotes.”
In 1922, in the run-up to the much anticipated premiere of Stravinsky’s ballet Le Renard, the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet gave an interview to an American journalist. Did he have any quotable anecdotes about his career? asked the journalist. “Write in your article: this artist doesn’t have any anecdotes, and it’s that which typifies him,” Ansermet replied with self-satisfaction.