Quotes about Biographies

Most popular biography quotes

The shadow in the garden.
Biography lends to death a new terror.
A biographer is an artist who is on oath.
Biography at its best is a form of fiction.


Biography should be written by an acute enemy.
Discretion is not the better part of biography.
Biography is the mesh through which real life escapes.
Biography is history seen through the prism of a person.
In every picture there should be shade as well as light.
Writing biography is a one-way transaction in friendship.
A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
Biographies generally are a disease of English literature.
The biographer does not trust his witnesses, living or dead.
Biography is a form by which little people take revenge on big people.
The biographer becomes the subject's closest ally and bitterest enemy.
Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.


And kept his heart a secret to the end
From all the picklocks of biographers.
My sole wish is to frustrate as utterly as possible the post-mortem exploiter.
A biography is like a hand-shake down the years that can become an arm-wrestle.
A burglar at the subject's keyhole, shamelessly marketing voyeuristic delights.
I could not pin him down to a conventional biographical text like a dead insect.
The facts of life are to the biographer what the text of a novel is to the critic.
Every great man nowadays has his disciple, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography.
A great biography should, like the close of a great drama, leave behind it a feeling of serenity.
Good biography requires the psychologist's eye, the historian's nose, the novelist's feel for narrative.
A biography should be a dissection and demonstration of how a particular human being was made and worked.
Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man—the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.  We get to be responsible for our faces.

face years

Biography seemed to be no more than a high-spirited game of yanking out shirttails and setting fire to them.
Nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
Biographies are likely to be either acts of worship or acts of destruction. And the best ones have elements of both.
Biography, like big game hunting, is one of the recognized forms of sport, and it is as unfair as only sport can be.


There is no life that can be recaptured wholly; as it was.  Which is to say that all biography is ultimately fiction.
A good biographer should combine the skills of the novelist and the detective, and add to them the patience and compassion of the priest.
Once you touch the biographies of human beings, the notion that political beliefs are logically determined collapses like a pricked balloon.


Biography is a very definite region, bounded on the north by history, on the south by fiction, on the east by obituary, and on the west by tedium.
On the trail of another man, the biographer must put up with finding himself at every turn: any biography uneasily shelters an autobiography within it.
A biographer is like a contractor who builds roads: it's terribly messy, mud everywhere, and when you get done, people travel over the road at a fast clip.
Biographies are like anthologies, especially anthologies of poetry.  One's eyes are magnetically directed to what ought to be there but isn't, as well as to what oughtn't to be there but is.
Biography is in some ways the most brutish of all the arts.  It shifts about uncomfortably in the strangely uncertain middle ground between deliberate assassination and helpless boot-licking.
Biographers, translators, editors—all, in short, who employ themselves in illustrating the lives or the writings of others, are peculiarly exposed to the Lues Boswelliana, or disease of admiration.
Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection.  He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and endears.
When a reader steps into a novel, he is walking into the writer's imagination. When he opens a biography, he is entering two lives; the subject and his biographer are like twins who will remain together until the pages turn to dust.
Biographers, the quick in pursuit of the dead, research, organize, fill in, contradict and make in this way a sort of completed picturepuzzle with all the scramble turned into a blue eye and the parts of the right leg fitted together.
A writer's life stands in relation to his work as a house does to a garden, related but distinct.  It is the business of critical biography to make the two overlap—to bring some of the furniture out to the garden, as it were, and spread flowers all over the house.