The Biographer as Archaeologist

William St Clair

in Mapping Lives

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263181
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734595 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

The Biographer as Archaeologist

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  • Literary Theory and Cultural Studies


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Numerous literary biographies of famous authors were normally shaped by the quantity and the nature of the surviving primary documentary evidences such as diaries, letters, notes of constructions, and descriptions of the commentaries. These sources not only shaped the nature of the biographies but also the biographical method adopted. This chapter discusses the nature of the biographical evidence. It examines how biographers who regard their work primarily as an historical investigation can deal with the hard and immovable fact that the sources on which they necessarily rely are normally likely to provide an unrepresentative record of the patterns of the lived life.

Keywords: primary documentary evidences; diaries; letters; notes of constructions; commentaries; biographies; biographical method; biographical evidence; sources; unrepresentative record

Chapter.  7111 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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