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Members' News

Rolling news and notices from the club and its members, as well as items of interest from the world of biography.

The organisers of the international “Convention and revolution life writing by women in the 1800s and 1900s: archives, critiques and methods” conference have invited participation from researchers of life writing, herstory, and (oral) history.

The conference will be held in Warsaw on 29 November– 1 December 2017, organised by the team behind the Women’s Archive, a division of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The conference will focus on discussing the latest methods of working with women’s personal documents and biographies written on their basis. We are interested in strategies developed in contemporary historiography and literature studies, in particular interdisciplinary women’s, gender and queer studies. As for historical periods, we are interested mainly in the 1800s and the 1900s up to World War II.

To apply or for more information, contact Ewa Serafin-Prusator at:

The application deadline is 30 April 2017.

sarah-watlingBea Hemming at Jonathan Cape has signed Noble Savages by Sarah Watling, which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize 2016.

“Things have moved quite quickly since the wonderful prize dinner last year, and I am very grateful for the support and encouragement from the Biographers Club,” commented Watling.

TatianaIt is with sadness we report that Biographers Club Member Tatiana Roshupkina passed away peacefully on the night of 11th January.

Tatiana was diagnosed with terminal cancer about three years ago.  Everything possible was done for her by nurses and doctors at Guys Hospital and the Royal Marsden.

She was cared for by Macmillan nurses and carers in her last days. Anyone wishing to make a donation should send it to one of these.

Tatiana wrote the chapter on the Siege of Leningrad during WW2 in Women in War: From Home Front to Front Line (Pen & Sword Military).

Her mother, also named Tatiana, was a little girl during that time and nearly starved. Tatiana’s mother, brother and nephew all survive her.

Tatiana also translated The Churchills: A Family Portrait by Celia and John Lee, for publication in Russia. She lived to see it published by AST Moscow and received a copy before she passed away.

book-cover-332x500Club member John Holliday’s biography of Walter Medhurst, MISSION TO CHINA, was published by Amberley Publishing in September and has now been released in his home country Australia.

Last night he was interviewed by Phillip Adams of Late Night Live, ABC Radio National. This is the equivalent of a national BBC broadcast. The interview went well and Philip Adams concluded by saying, “It’s a terrific book and I can’t wait for the movie.”

You can view the interview and find out more about the book at

polly-clark_larchfieldCongratulations to Polly Clark, winner of the 2014 Tony Lothian Prize, whose novel LARCHFIELD comes out on 23rd March 2017.

The book will be published by riverrun, an imprint of Quercus.

Clark won the Tony Lothian Prize for the best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography two years ago with her manuscript Thank You So Much for Writing.

More details are available on her website.

Judy O’Kane, who was shortlisted for shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Award in London in 2016 for best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography, has been invited to read from her manuscript, Thirst, at Ballymaloe LitFest in May. O’Kane says the shortlisting has been “instrumental” in helping her secure the event.

More information about O’Kane’s work and ticket bookings for the event can be found on her website.

Anne de Courcy and Jane Ridley (the Club’s chairman and chairman-elect) were invited to take part in the Colloquium organised by our opposite numbers the United States, BIO, at Wolfson College, Oxford, which took place on Saturday 5 November, 2016, under the auspices of Professor Dame Hermione Lee. Our Life President, Andrew Lownie, was unfortunately ill and could not take part. Among the subjects under discussion were the borderline between history and biography, the rising popularity of memoir and national attitudes to biography. It was felt that such cross-border communication was useful to both sides; and that the Club should endeavour to set up links with biography associations in other countries.

the-shoguns-queenBiographers’ Club member Lesley Downer has announced events for her new book The Shogun’s Queen, based on the true story of Princess Atsu and her struggle to save Japan. The events are:

Friday November 4th, 6.00 – 8.00
Travelling Through, 131 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE
Thursday November 10th, 6.45 – 8.00 pm
Japan Society, The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter Street), London WC1A 2TH
Admission free but booking essential
Wednesday December 7th, 6.30 – 9.00.  Doors open 6.00
October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AL
tickets £7 in advance/ £10 on the door
Tuesday December 13th, 6.00 – 8.00
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle, London NW1 4QP
Admission free but booking essential


An update for all Biographers’ Club members on the BIO colloquium

Our opposite numbers from the U.S., BIO, are holding a Colloquium on American and European Biography on 5 November, 2016, In collaboration with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Oxford, housed at Wolfson College and directed by Professor Dame Hermione Lee, with the aim of promoting conversations about similarities and differences and exploring the question of whether we can celebrities, History and Biography and Authorised and non-authorised Biography. Anyone who wants to go must register at ‘Biography Beyond Borders’ and enter the code BBB16Europe to register under the European category (anyone from Europe germs a discount). When they get to the credit card page they will see a discount of $60 from the American fee of $100; the European fee therefore is $40.

Prior to the Colloquium, on Friday evening, November 4, there will be a lecture at the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London (directed by Professor Max Saunders). A reception will follow. The lecture ‘Something to Offend Everyone: The Muckraking Life of Jessica Mitford,’i s free but drinks have to be paid for.  The speaker is Carla Kaplan, who holds the Davis Distinguished Professorship in American Literature. The exact time of the lecture,which will be in the late afternoon, will be announced later.

Biographers’ Club members might find the ESSE 2016 seminar in Galway of interest. Convened by Joanny Moulin (The Biography Society, Aix-Marseille Université, France) and Hans Renders (Biography Institute, University of Groningen, the Netherlands), this seminar invites contributions to the study of biography as a genre, considering that it raises specific issues that distinguish it from autobiography.

It would equally be interested in approaches to the practice of biography as a method of academic research, from microhistory to literature and cultural studies. For instance, individual papers may address theoretical questions, case studies of particular biographers’ works, the history and the poetics of biography, the impact of the biographical turn, the evolution of biographical dictionaries, or the innovative influences of the biopic and digital humanities.

For more information, visit: