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Audio Interview with Victoria Glendinning by Nigel Beale: On the nature of Biography

Photo by NB

Biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist Victoria Glendinning was born in Sheffield, and educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern Languages. She worked as a teacher and social worker before becoming an editorial assistant for the Times Literary Supplement in 1974.

President of English PEN, she was awarded a CBE in 1998. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton, Ulster, Dublin and York. Her biographies include Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer, 1977; Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn Among Lions (1981), which won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography) and the Duff Cooper Prize; and Rebecca West: A Life (1987), and Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West (1983) and Trollope (1992) both of which won the Whitbread Biography Award.

We talk here ostensibly about her latest book,  Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941- 1973 but in fact, mostly about the nature of biography,the difference between editing letters and writing lives, fabricating dialogue, compiling data, selecting facts; the importance of place, material and familial limitations, life over art, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville West, Sissinghurst, and text versus context.

Copyright © 2008 by Nigel Beale.

Please listen to the Biblio File interview here: 

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One Response to “Audio Interview with Victoria Glendinning by Nigel Beale: On the nature of Biography”

  1. Christine Says:

    This was most interesting; the use and publication of personal journals and letters is such a potentially controversial topic and Victoria was delightful. Lots of food for thought…I was surprised that Victoria would decide that her notes about her husband’s last days would be of no interest to others and then burn them. Also, with regard to the Ritchie/Bowen relationship, I guess one would have expected more perception, an ability to sense….(a hyper-senstive mind, to use her words) the extent of their connection – I have to read this latest book, I guess!
    Thank you for providing these audio sessions.

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