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The network biography

Biography used to investigate the nature of talent; now it explores the social networks and collaborations through which reputations are made

By Philip Oltermann   April 2006

A Night at the Majestic by Richard Davenport-Hines

(Faber, £14.99)

The Yellow House by Martin Gayford

(Fig Tree, £18.99)

Rousseau’s Dog by David Edmonds & John Eidinow

(Faber, £14.99)

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…

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