Skip to Content

Resources and Links

Useful links and other resources for the “biographile”…

Membership Application

For membership enquiries please contact

You are eligible for membership if:

  • You are a published biographer.
  • You have a commissioned work of biography in progress, but have not as yet been published.
  • You have been researching a work of biography as a student of ‘writing lives and letters’ or affiliated subject (e.g. history, economics, politics, social sciences, natural sciences) as a teacher/lecturer.
  • You are an editor with a publishing house, or its publisher.
  • You are a literary agent.
  • You are a lecturer or professor with a special interest in biography.
  • You are a film, TV or radio producer, director, writer with a keen interest in producing, directing or writing biography; or have already produced, directed or written biographies for a medium other than print format.
  • You are a literary critic/journalist with a keen interest in biography.
  • [For student membership] you are in full-time secondary, undergraduate or post-graduate education.

If for any reason you feel you don’t fit into these categories, or have any queries about how you might still join, please email Nicolas Majerus at explaining why you would like to join the Biographers’ Club and he will try to respond as soon as possible (usually within 48 hours). The Biographers’ Club committee will review applications monthly.

Annual Membership Fees: Full Member £35; Associate Member £30; Student (in full‐time education) £20

If your membership is accepted, we will email you with payment details (by cheque, bank transfer or Direct Debit/Standing Order).

Membership Application Form

Name (required):



Tel. (home):

Tel. (mob.):

Tel. (work):


Please indicate your field of work:
BiographerTV/film/radioPrint mediaPublishing


[If a student, please indicate your institution and that you are in full‐time education]

Biographies you’ve written/or have been commissioned to write (if applicable):


If your application is accepted, please indicate whether you are happy for us to include your bio in our online members' list:
Yes, please list meNo, don't list me

Please enter the characters above into the field below:

Life Writing Courses


University of Buckingham

City University of London

University of East Anglia

University of Falmouth

Goldsmith’s College

University of Bangor

King’s College

University of Sussex



UK Archives


Archives & Records Association, Taunton

The National Council on Archives

University of Birmingham

Bodleian Library, Oxford

British Library, London

University of Cambridge

John Rylands Library, Manchester

Parliamentary Archives

National Achives, Kew

Scottish Archive Network

National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

National Scottish Archives, Edinburgh

Archives and Records Council Wales

University of Newcastle

The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University

UK Press Archive

BBC Archive

City of London Archive

Theatre and Performance Archives, V&A

British Film Institute National Archive

Recent and Forthcoming Biographies

March-July 2012

Mary I by J. Edwards, Yale, £25. This is a major biography of one of England’s most controversial sovereigns. Drawing on new research, Edwards presents England’s ‘last Catholic queen’ in a sympathetic light.

Edward III by W. M. Ormrod, Yale, £30. The latest in a shelf-busting series of English monarchs. Written by a distinguished expert, this surveys England at the outset of the Hundred Years War.

Queen Elizabeth. Her Life in Our Times by S. Bradford, Viking, £20. A lively and evocative portrait of the Queen by acclaimed royal biographer Sarah Bradford.

Our Queen by K. Hardman, Hutchinson, £20. A timely and elegant short study of the reign of the present queen. A welcome addition to this year’s formidable collection.

A Brief Life of the Queen by R. Lacey, Duckworth, £9.99. Yes, another brilliant work by Robert Lacey, the veteran journalist and author. This is the best short study of the queen in print.

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj by A. de Courcy, Weidenfeld, £20. At the height of the Raj, countless young women went to India in search of a husband. They were called the ‘Fishing Fleet’. Anne de Courcy tells their story with wit and wisdom.

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by T. Penn. Schuster, £20. A brilliant popular study of the first Tudor king, now out in paperback.

Dr Johnson in the Company of Women by K. Chisholn, Chatto & Windus, £25. The figure of Dr Johnson, the greatest of all men of letters, still towers in the literary world. This amusing new study looks at him through the lens of the women he knew.

Philip of Spain, King of England by H. Kessey, IB Tauris, £18.99. An impressive popular study of Philip II of Spain, focusing particularly on his role as consort to his wife, Mary I.

Rabelais by M. Huchan. Gallimard, £26. An impressive French study of the greatest of the bon vivants, Rabelais remains a figure of great interest on both sides of the Channel for his humour and literary skill.

Saussure by J. E. Joseph, OUP, £30. An epic biography of the inventor of modern linguistics. Joseph presents a details scholarly account which is both readable and entertaining.

A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes by L. Miller, Alma Books £25. A moving authorised biography of the First World War’s only female soldier. Charting her rise from tomboyish childhood to soldier in the trenches, this is a harrowing tale of love and endeavour.

Muckraker: the scandalous life and times of W. T. Stead, Britain’s first investigative journalist, by W. Sydney Robinson, Robson Press, £20. Since his death aboard the Titanic 100 years ago, Stead, the inventor of tabloid journalism, has never had proper biographical treatment – until now. Robinson presents Stead as a flawed hero, though nevertheless a prince of journalists.

September 2011-March 2012
The Admiral Benbow: The Life and Times of a Naval Legend by S. Wills, Quercus, December, £14.99. Pirate-slayer, pirate and buccaneer, Admiral Benbow became famous for having the men under his command put to death for their disobedience. This sympathetic new biography puts this controversial and little known career into perspective.
Captain Cook: Master of the Seas by F. McLynn, Yale University Press, January 2012, £25. This is the third biography of Captain Cook to appear in the last few years, but it is a valuable contribution to a subject who still continues to fascinate readers all over the world.
Churchill by Ashley Jackson, Quercus, February 2012, £20. This book will be devoured by all who cannot get enough of the great man, but will not be missed by those who have already had their fill.
Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People by Andrew Marr, Macmillan, October 2011, £25. A blockbuster biography of the world’s most famous monarch by Britain’s most ubiquitous journalist. A formidable combination.
Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of a Century by Masha Gressen, Icon, March 2012, £7.99. This is a book about a Russian maths genius who cracked one of the greatest academic problems of the twentieth century – and then disappeared back into his mother’s flat never to be seen again. Trust me, it’s worth reading.
James Joyce: A Biography by G. Bowker, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, January 2012, £20. Joyce remains an elusive subject for his biographer, but this highly-readable account succeeds where many others have failed.
The Shah, Abbas Milani, Palgrave Macmillan, February 2012, £14.99. This is the most authoritative biography of the man who led Iran in its pre-Revolutionary glory – and imperfection. Himself an emigre, Milani explores the life of this important historical figure with sympathy but not with undue nostalgia.
Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor by Hugo Vickers, Hutchinson, October, 2011, £20. One of two notable biographies of Wallis Simpson released in the last few months. Hugo Vickers draws on his profound knowledge of aristocratic society to provide this highly-sympathetic account.
Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death that Changed the Monarchy by Helen Rappaport, Hutchinson, March 2012, £20. After her husband’s death at the age of 41, Queen Victoria entered into a state of mourning that surpassed even the length of the late Albert’s life. In this superb new account, Helen Rappaport explores this phase of the reign and the effect it had on the monarchy in general.
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson by Anne Sebba, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, September 2011, £20. Acclaimed biography of the woman who cost Edward VIII the throne. Described by many as the definitive account, renowned biographer Anne Sebba has unearthed a wealth of information including a new cache of letters. A must read.
July-September, 2011
Brenda Colvin: A Career in Landscape, by Trish Gibson, Frances Lincoln, July 2011, £35. Brenda Colvin revolutionised garden and landscape design in the mid-twentieth century, with her concept of ‘wild gardening’. This controversial technique, as well as the obscure personality of its creature, are carefully worked through in this interesting biography of an unfairly forgotten master-gardener.
The Chronicles of John Cannon, excise officer and writing master, by John Money (ed.), OUP, July 2011, £65 & £70 (2 vols.). The memoirs of John Cannon, a West Country excise official, have been known of for many years, but only now have they become accessible to a wider public. These two stout volumes take the reader through the everyday life of this fascinating individual, whose treatment of sex, marriage and social mores is often surprisingly modern.
The Churchills: A Family at the Heart of History, by Mary S. Lovell, August, 2011, Little, Brown, £25. The Churchills have been studied endlessly, but with good reason. From the battlefield of Blenheim to the Battle of Britain, they have been at the centre of British history. This quirky and original portrait of the family will amuse some readers, but many will be disappointed by its candid superficiality.
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography, by J. A. Hall, July 2011, Verso, £29.99. Ernest Gellner was one of the foremost anthropologists of his era. Having experienced cultural and ethnographic dislocation in the aftermath of the break-up of the Hapsburg Empire, he devoted himself to the study of nations and nationalism. This biography draws an interesting parallel between his life and work.  
The Man Who Invented the Daleks – The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation, by A. W. Turner, July 2011, Aurum, £20. Since the appearance of Dr Who in 1963, the Daleks have terrified and fascinated entire generations of schoolchildren – and adults. This biography throws much light of the elusive man who brought them, and the celebrated series, into being.
Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer, by Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Bloomsbury, July 2011, £25. Kenneth Clark believed Samuel Palmer to be ‘the English Van Gogh’, a visionary who was neglected in his lifetime, yet today he remains hardly known. His idyllic landscapes, depicting corners of England still untouched by the effects of the Industrial Revolution, remain minor masterpieces. This portrait of his life is both meticulous and enjoyable to read.
April-June, 2011
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor by Anne Sebba, Pheonix,  June 2011, £9.99. Over seventy years since instigating one of the most serious crises in the history of the Royal Family, opinions about ‘that woman’ Wallis Simpson remain divided. In this authoritative new biography, Anne Sebba expores the life of a woman for whom a king gave up his throne and a nation briefly courted republicanism.
Ed: Ed Miliband and the re-making of the Labour Party by J. Macintyre and M. Hasan, BiteBack, June, 2011, £16.99. Two Labour journalists give the official account of Ed Miliband’s rise to the leadership of their party.
 Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. Allen Lane, April 2011, £30. Almost half a century after his death, opinion is still very much divided: to some Malcolm X remains the defiant hero of the Civil Rights movement, second in importance only to his friend, Martin Luther King; to others he was a dangerous separatist who encouraged deeper segregation between black and white communities, as well as between Christians and what he provocatively called ‘the Nation of Islam’. This biography, the most detailed for more than a decade, gives new life to the controversy.
No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf by Carolyn Burke. Bloomsbury, April 2011, £20. Born in a Parisian slum, Edith Piaf began singing on street corners at the behest of her five-foot tall trapeze artist father. She was soon discovered by a nightclub owner and began a glittering but drug-fuelled career which ended with her death at the age of 47. By then she was an international superstar, but she also looked closer to 70 than 40. This worthy tribute to her life and legacy is fittingly entitled ‘No Regrets’.
The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of V.S. Naipaul by Patrick French. Picador, April 2011, £20. Few writing careers have been as dramatic as V.S. Naipaul’s. Self-made, largely self-taught and somewhat self-obsessed, Naipaul has dazzled and offended the reading public for more than fifty years. This astonishingly frank, and often highly critical, authorised biography will be remembered as one of the most important literary lives of the decade.
G.K. Chesterton by Ian Ker. OUP, April 2011, £35. It doesn’t seem long since the last biography of Chesterton, but as one of the most popular and voluminous writers of all time this book is eagerly anticipated.
Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII by Robert Hutchinson. Weidenfeld, April 2011, £20. The critically acclaimed historian Robert Hutchinson examines the first 35 years in the reign of Henry VIII.
House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles by Evelyn Juers. Allen Lane, May 2011, £25. The circle of Thomas Mann and his older brother, Heinrich, encompassed a world of proud intellectual liberalism that was obliterated by the rise of Nazism. In this wide-ranging account, author Evelyn Juers paints a convincing, and often tragic, picture of the authors’ gradual disenchantment with the country they loved.
Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil and Legend by Leigh Montville. Doubleday, May 2011, £18.99. Motorbike fanatic ‘Evel’ Knievel shot to international fame in 1967 when he attempted to ride his bike over the ­vast fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He failed. But the attempt secured him the unenviable position of ‘the world’s most famous daredevil’. For years he performed for television audiences of millions, jumping rows of trucks, school buses and on one spectacular occasion a canyon. This biography suggests that there was a troubled and somewhat disturbed individual behind the legend.
Frank: The Making of a Legend by James Kaplan. Sphere, May 2011, £25. Born on the dirty floor of a tenement in New Jersey, Frank Sinatra grew up to become one of the most admired, and notorious, singers in history. This detailed biography focuses exclusively on his path to fame and fortune – the years before 1954. Kaplan portrays his subject as a tough but sensitive artist whose connections with organised crime may have been exaggerated.
SNOW: The double life of a World War II Spy by N. West and M. Rogers, BiteBack, £20.00. SNOW was the codename assigned to Arthur Owens, one of the most remarkable British spies of the Second World War. This ‘typical Welsh underfed type’ became the first of the great double-cross agents who were to play a major part in Britain’s victory over the Germans.
James Joyce by Gordon Bowker. Weidenfeld, May 2011, £25. Few subjects could offer more hope and despair to their biographers that James Joyce. Gordon Bowker’s new study attempts to untangle the man from his cryptic fiction.
January-March 2011
Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh by Bryan Niblett. Kramedart Press, January 2011, £19.99. Charles Bradlaugh was the first openly atheist MP and an early promoter of contraception. Bryan Niblett’s study offers a window into Victorian culture, which remains topical today.
Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight. W.W. Norton, February 2011, £22. In this landmark biography, Jane Addams (1860-1935) becomes America’s most admired and most hated woman – and wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Louise W. Knight shows Addams’s boldness, creativity and tenacity as she sought ways to put the ideals of democracy into action as a progressive political force; an advocate for women’s suffrage; an advisor to presidents; a co-founder of civil rights organisations, including the NAACP; and a leader for international peace.
Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg. OUP, February 2011, £25. Germany’s gruff, snobbish but brilliant chancellor was at the centre of European politics for more than two generations. This latest account portrays him as a man of flesh and blood as well as iron.
The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 1716-83 by Jane Brown. Chatto and Windus, March 2011, £20. As Britain’s most famous gardener, Capability Brown had an influence on eighteenth-century culture to an extent almost unimaginable today. This new biography surveys his achievement and explores his intricate personality.
George Gershwin by Larry Starr. Yale, January 2011, £30. Only since his death has Gershwin been acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Larry Starr’s new biography gives the man his due.
Henry VIII: A Life by David Loades. Amberly Publishing, February 2011, £25. A new biography of England’s most famous monarch might seem superfluous were it not written by one of the greatest historians of his generation.
Katherine of Aragon by Julia Fox. Weidenfeld, February 2011, £20. The story of the woman at the heart of the Reformation is compellingly narrated from Katherine’s point of view as Julia Fox explores her subject’s inner world.  This comprehensive biography promises to be of interest to general readers as well as Tudor addicts.
Arthur Miller: 1962-2005 by Christopher Bigsby. Weidenfeld, February 2011, £30. The second volume of Christopher Bigsby’s monumental Life of Arthur Miller will be required reading for devotees of American theatre.
Sir Walter Raleigh: Life and Legend by Mark Nicholls. Continuum, February 2011, £25. Pirate or patriot? It remains a question worth asking of Elizabeth I’s ill-fated favourite, Sir Walter Raleigh. Mark Nicholls addresses both this question and Raleigh’s posthumous reputation.
Ravel by Roger Nichols. Yale, February 2011, £25. One of the most enigmatic composers of the early twentieth century is studied in remarkable detail by the esteemed musicologist Roger Nichols.
Edith Sitwell: Avante Garde Poet by Richard Green. Virago, February 2011, £25. Edith Sitwell’s star shone brightly during her long life. This new biography emphasises that her poetry, with its unique lyricism and musicality, deserves wider recognition today.

H.W. Fisher, free helpline

Free tax advice for Biographers’ Club Members

The Authors and Journalists Team at H.W. Fisher & Company is dedicated to ensuring financial security and prosperity for their clients, and have many years’ experience in helping minimise tax liability.


If you have a tax query call the free tax helpline on + 44 (0) 20 7874 7876 and quote “Biographers’ Club”.

Alternatively, email your query (quoting “Biographers’ Club” in the subject line) to Andrew Subramaniam or Barry Kernon


Home Page

Forthcoming Events


Wednesday 2 March, 7pm – Tom Bower

St Stephen’s Club, 34 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AB [nearest Tube is St James’s Park]. £35. To book please send cheque [payable to The Biographers’ Club] to Jane Mays, 21 Marsden Street, London, NW5 3HE, [and please let us know if you require a vegetarian meal].

Thursday 24 February, Biography – What Publishers Are Looking For [this event is now sold out]

Drinks 6.30 for 7.00pm start Swedenborg Hall, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH [nearest Tube Holborn or Tottenham Court Road]. Chaired by Nicholas Clee, joint editor of Bookbrunch, with John Blake Managing Director of Blake Publishing, Heather McCallum Trade Publisher at Yale University Press, Alan Samson, Non-Fiction Publisher at Weidenfeld and Paul Sidey Editorial Director at Hutchinson will be discussing how the biography market is changing, what sort of biographies and authors they are looking for and how proposals should be presented. This event is now sold out.


1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006

– 1997

Thursday 4th September 12.45 for 1.00

Elena’s L’Etoile, 30 Charlotte St W1


3rd December 12.45 for 1.00

Grant McIntyre Publishing Biography

Grant McIntyre, Publishing Director of John Murray, explains what publishers look for in commissioning biography.

The Sloane Club, 52 Lower Sloane St, SW1


Go Top

– 1998

Friday 1st May 12.45 for 1.00

Paul Marsh Biography in Translation

Paul Marsh, The Marsh Agency, on which biographies sell abroad.

Academia Club, 8 Grosvenor Place, SW!


Go Top

– 1999

All meetings held at Veronica’s Restaurant, 3 Hereford Rd, W2


Wednesday 27th January 12.45 for 1.00

Christine Nicholls Writing Short Biographies

The former editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and editor of a biography series for Sutton looks at the skills in writing and publishing shorter lives.


Thursday 25th February 12.45 for 1.00

Rupert Allason Secret Lives: Intelligence Biography

As Nigel West the author of numerous intelligence books , Rupert Allason considers the special problems of researching and publishing biographies of spies and spymasters.


Thursday 30th March 12.45 for 1.00

Michael Holroyd The Case Against Biography

Regarded as one of Britain’s leading biographers, Michael Holroyd argues that biography is not a proper literary genre.


Tuesday 27th April 12.45 for 1.00

Marion Milne Adapting biography for television and radio

The founder of 3BM TV ,which specialises in historical and biographical subjects, looks at how individual lives can be turned into film portraits.


Tuesday 25th May 7.45 for 8.00

Philip Ziegler ‘How Royal Biography Differs’

The author of many royal biographies, Philip Ziegler considers the special problems and different approaches to writing in the the genre.


Monday 28th June 12.45 for 1.00

Andrew Crofts ‘Ghosting a Life’

Andrew Crofts, one of Britain’s best-known ghost writers, describes how he tries to capture the voice of each of his autobiographical subjects.



Tuesday 27th July 12.45 for 1.00

Roy Jenkins Political Biography

Roy Jenkins looks at how he brings his own political experience to bear when writing lives of politicians.


7th September – 7.45 for 8.00

Hilary Spurling ‘The Unknown Matisse’

Hilary Spurling discusses her biography of the artist Henri Matisse.


Monday 4th October – 7.45 for 8.00

Andrew Motion Wainewright the Poisoner

The biographer of Keats and Larkin on his biography-cum-novel which uses a first person narrative with footnotes.


9th December 6.00-8.00

Christmas Party


Go Top

– 2000

All meetings held at Veronica’s Restaurant, 3 Hereford Rd, W2 except the annual dinner.


Monday 31st January 7.45 for 8.00

BRENDA MADDOX ‘What’s Love Got to do with it’

The biographer of DH Lawrence, WB Yeats and Nora Joyce talks about the importance of the private life in biography.


Wednesday 16th February 12.45 for 1.00

ANDREW LOWNIE (last minute replacement for Jan Morris) Different approaches to Biography.


Wednesday 15th March 12.45 for 1.00

CHARLES SPENCER The Challenges of Generational Biography

Earl Spencer draws on his recent histories of his own family to examine the techniques of writing multi-biography.


Thursday 13th April 7.45 for 8.00

ROBERT LACEY The Biography of a Year

The author of books on Princess Grave of Monaco, Sotheby’s and the House of Saud, Robert Lacey relates his experiences of writing the story of the year 1000.


Thursday 27th April 12.45 for 1.00

DAVID STARKEY The Importance of the Early Life in Biography

David Starkey, biographer of several Tudor and Elizabethan monarchs, traces the importance of childhood influences in shaping the adult subject.


Wednesday 24th May 12.45 for 1.00

ANDREW MORTON The Biographer as Subversive

Drawing on his lives of Princess Diana, President Moi and Monica Lewinsky, Andrew Morton argues for the role of biographer as subversive.


Wednesday 28th June 12.45 for 1.00

GILLIAN TINDALL Biography or Fiction?

The novelist and biographer Gillian Tindall discuss the shifting space between fact and fiction.


Tuesday 25th July 7.45 for 8.00



Wednesday 30th August 12.45 for 1.00

JEFFREY SIMMONS Celebrity Biography

The publisher and agent Jeffrey Simmons looks back on forty years of dealing with celebrity biography.


Thursday 28th September 12.45 for 1.00

JANE RIDLEY Can Biography be Taught?

Jane Ridley, biographer of Disraeli and Lutyens, who teaches a course on biography asks whether the skills can be taught.



Wednesday 25th October 12.45 for 1.00

JOHN CLAY Psycho-Biography

The biographer of RD Laing discusses the strengths and weaknesses of psycho-biography.


Tuesday 14th November 12.45 for 1.00

JULIET BARKER 19 th Century Biography

Juliet Barker, author of a recently-published biography of Wordsworth, on the case for the 19 th century approach to writing biography.


Tuesday 5th December 6.30



Go Top

– 2001

All meetings held at Veronica’s Restaurant, 3 Hereford Rd, W2 except annual dinner.


Friday 2nd February 12.45 for 1.00

TONY RENNELL Queen Victoria Symposium

To mark the centenary of Queen Victoria’s funeral Tony Rennell, author of a recently published book on her last days, talks about her legacy and how biographers have written about her. To be filmed by the BBC.



Thursday 22nd February 12.45 for 1.00

ADAM SISMAN The Biography of a Biography

The author of Boswell’s Presumptuous Task, discusses writing the story of James Boswell and his life of Johnson.


Wednesday 21st March 7.45 for 8.00

JAN MORRIS Annual Dinner

In the 14th century Founder’s Hall, New College, Oxford the journalist, travel writer and biographer Jan Morris reflects on forty years experience of writing and her view of biography.


Tuesday 3rd April 7.45 for 8.00

DAVID HOOPER Biographers and the Law

A solicitor and the author of several books on libel, David Hooper explains the particular legal problems biographers may encounter, especially with new rules on privacy.


Monday 23rd April 12.45 for 1.00

KATHRYN HUGHES The Future of Biography

Kathryn Hughes, winner of last year’s James Tait Black Prize for her life of George Eliot, draws on her extensive reviewing experience to speculate on biographical trends.


Tuesday 22nd May 7.45 for 8.00

GEOFF METZGER The Biography Channel

Geoff Metzger, Managing Director of The History Channel, explains the workings of the new Biography Channel.


Wednesday 27th June 7.45 for 8.00

HUMPHREY CARPENTER The Biographer as Villain

The biographer of several contemporary figures, Humphrey Carpenter looks at the sort of controversies involved in writing biography.




Athenaeum Hotel, Picadilly


Tuesday 24th July 7.45 for 8.00

VALERIE GROVE The Journalist as Biographer

The journalist and biographer of, amongst others, Laurie Lee, Valerie Grove recounts how journalistic skills can be brought to bear in writing biography.


Thursday 30h August 12.45 for 1.00

NIGEL JONES The Biographer as Gumshow

The author of a life of Rupert Brooke and a journalist on first History Today and now the BBC History Magazine, Nigel Jones looks at the investigative skills and techniques required by biographers.


Wednesday 26th September 12.45 for 1.00

ARTEMIS COOPER The Biography of Place

Artemis Cooper has written portraits of Cairo during the Second World War and Paris immediately afterwards. She considers how a place can be as much of a subject to the biographer as people.



Monday 22nd October 12.45 for 1.00

GARRY O’CONNOR Authorised or Unauthorised?

Garry O’Connor who has written lives of Ralph Richardson, Paul Scofield, Peggy Ashcroft and William Shakespeare – some authorised and some unauthorised – analyses the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.


Thursday 22nd November 12.45 for 1.00

ANGELA THIRLWELL The role of autobiography in biography

Angela Thirwell edited The Folio Anthology of Autobiography and is currently writing a life of the art-critic William Rossetti.



Monday 10th December 6.30

CHRISTMAS PARTY Berkeley Square Café, 7 Davies St, W1. Tickets £15

The Berkeley Square Café’s owner, film producer Leslie Linder, has kindly opened the café for our exclusive use. It takes over 150 people so I hope many of you will bring along potential new members as guests.


Go Top

– 2002

Tuesday 26th February 7.45 for 8.00

Cafe Rouge, 2 Lancer Square, Kensington Church St, W8

John Campbell, biographer of Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath, will be discussing whether or not biography is simply a branch of history.


Wednesday 20th March 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

Lucasta Miller, author of The Bronte Myth, on ‘The Biographer as Myth Maker’.


Friday 12th April 7.45 for 8.00

Magdalene College, Cambridge

Annual Dinner.

Piers Brendon, Keeper of the Churchill College Archives and author of books on Eisenhower and Churchill , will be our speaker in the candlelit medieval college hall.

Guests welcome. Tickets £40.


Monday 29th April 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

John Blake of Blake Publishing on ‘Heroes and Villains: Biography publishing for the mass market’


Friday 24th May 7.30 for 8.00

Longleat House, Wiltshire

The Marquess of Bath will be talking about publishing his autobiography on his web site and the Wessex oral history project.

Guests welcome. Tickets £30.


Friday 14th June 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW!

The journalist and biographer Gyles Brandreth, currently writing a book on the Queen, will speak on ‘The Queen and I: the pitfalls of writing about Monarchy’.


Monday 24th June 6.30-8,30

Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall

Fifth Anniversary party to which all previous speakers and judges have been invited.

Tickets £25. Guests welcome

Wednesday 10th July 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

Phil Craig, writer and television journalist, on ‘Biographers at war: the story behind the Princess Diana biographies’.


Tuesday 13th August 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

‘Reading the Father-Daughter Relationship: Cross Fertilisations between psychoanalysis and biography’. Jane Polden gained a First in English at Cambridge before becoming a psychotherapist and author.



Thursday 12th September 7.45 for 8.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

Peter Conradi, the authorised biographer of Iris Murdoch, discusses how his friend has been represented in film, the three memoirs of her husband and in biography.


Friday 27th September 12.45 for 1.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

David Ellis is Professor of English Literature at the University of Kent. His books include Literary Lives: Biography and the Search for Understanding and DH Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-1930 ,which was short-listed for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His talk is entitled ‘Letters, biography and the strange case of William Shakespeare’.



Friday 25th October 12.45 for 1.00

Bertrolli’s, Frith St. Biographers Club Prize lunch.

Richard Holmes, Professor of Biography at UEA and author of biographies of amongst others Chatterton, Shelley and Coleridge will discuss his approach to biography.


Thursday 7th November 7.45 for 8.00

Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

Sally Cline, author of a forthcoming life of the Fitzgeralds, on ‘Zelda (and Scott) Fitzgerald: Two Lives Beneath One Legend.’



Thursday 14th November 7.45 for 8.00

Café Rouge, Lancer’s Square, W8.

J.D.F. Jones, whose most recent book is the authorised biography of Laurens van der Post,on ‘The Problems of authorised biography.’


Monday 2nd December 6.30-8.30

Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, W1

Christmas party. Guests welcome. Tickets £20.


Go Top

– 2003

Wednesday 3rd September 12.45 for 1.00

Biographers’ Club Prize lunch

Ben Pimlott and Diane Middlebrook in discussion on ‘The Current State of Biography’

Bertorelli’s, Frith St


Tuesday 7th October 7.45 for 8.00

Andrew Roberts ‘Virtual history: can speculation about what did not happen in the past help us in the study of what did’


Tuesday 4th November 12.45 for 1.00

Neil McKenna The Importance of the Sex Life

Drawing on his The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, Neil McKenna shows how the sex lives of individuals are often crucial in understanding their life and work.
Bertorelli’s, Frith St


Monday 1st December 6.00-8.00

Christmas Party

Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, W1


Go Top

– 2004

Monday 5th July Summer Party 6.00-8.00

Destino, 25 Swallow St, W1


Wednesday 29th September

Jane Mays and Brian MacArthur ‘Serialising Biography’

Two of Britain’s most important serial buyers, respectively for the Daily Mail and Times explain what they look for in extracting biography and how it can help sales.

Destino, 25 Swallow St, W1



Wednesday 27th October 7.45 for 8.00

The Contented Vine, 17 Sussex St, SW1

Rosalie Macfarlane, Group Publicity Director at Time Warner and Rina Gill, Publicity Manager at Random House will discuss ‘Publicising Biography’.



Monday 8th November 6.00 for 7.00

English Pen Media-Biz Quiz and dinner

Savoy Hotel

Tickets £100.

Last year The Biographers’ Club entered three teams – more than any other group – and I very much hope we can at least equal that number this year.


Monday 6th December 6.30-8.30

Christmas Party

Georgian Society, 6 Fitzroy Square, W1

Guests welcome. Tickets £20.


Go Top

– 2005

All meetings at The Savile Club, 69 Brook Street, W1 unless otherwise specified.


Friday 18th February

Drinks 6.30 for 7.00 pm talk. Dinner at 8.15pm. Guests welcome.

Jonathan Bate, author of The Genius of Shakespeare and Professor of Shakepeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick will talk on “The Impossibility of Shakespearean Biography”. The talk will be chaired by David Ellis, Professor of English Literature at the University of Kent.

The Biographers Club has entered a team for University Challenge and the BBC will be filming the drinks beforehand.


Thursday 31st March 12.45 for 1.00

Barbara Schwepcke, founder of Haus Publishing (UK) on “The Sorry Tale of an Independent Publisher of Short Biographies”.



Monday 9th May 12.45 for 1.00

Thomas Staley ‘Lives, Letters and the Ransom Centre.’

The Director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre at the University of Texas at Austin on his collection and how biographers can best use it.

Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1


Monday 23rd May 7.45 for 8.00

Ann Wroe ‘Unknowable Lives’

The biographer of Pilate and Perkin Warback shows how biographies can be written about people of whom very little is known.

Arts Club, Dover St, W1. Tickets £27.50



Monday 6th June 7.45 for 8.00

David Twiston Davies Obituary Writing

Formerly Daily Telegraph obituaries editor and the author of The Daily Telegraph books on Naval and Military Obituaries, David Twiston Davies on writing obituaries.

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £27.50



Thursday 16th June 12.45 for 1.00

Jeremy Lewis – Allen Lane

The publisher and writer Jeremy Lewis on his new biography of the publisher Allen Lane.

At and in association with the Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £25.


Monday 20th June 6.30-8.30

Summer party

The Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, SW1. Guests welcome. Tickets £20.

Guests welcome. Tickets £20.


Monday 4th July 12.45 for 1.00

Yvonne Ward ‘Packaging the Monarchy: Queen Victoria and her Editors’.

Yvonne Ward shows how our view of Queen Victoria has been based on highly selective editions of her letters.

Tickets £25.


Wednesday 14th September 12.45 for 1.00

Biographers’ Prize lunch

2005 judges: Caroline Moorehead, Miranda Seymour and Robert Lacey

Speaker: Alison Weir, The Appeal of Medieval Biography.

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £25.


Friday 23rd September 7.45 for 8.00

Margaret Crick will discuss the problems she encountered writing her biography of Mary Archer.

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £27.50


Monday 3rd October 12.45 for 1.00

David Sutton ‘Keeping WATCH: tracking down copyright holders’.

David Sutton is Director of Research Projects at Reading University Library, with responsibility, since 1982, for the Location Register literary manuscripts project ( and, since 1994, for the WATCH copyright project (Writers Artists & Their Copyright Holders,

Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £25.



Wednesday 26th October 7.45 for 8.00

Dr Rebecca Stott, whose books include Darwin and the Barnacle, will talk about writing the biography of an animal species.

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £27.50.


Tuesday 8th November 12.45 for 1.00

Hazel Bell Biographers in Fiction

Hazel Bell will be discussing some 24 novels which feature biographers including Henry James, Julian Barnes, William Golding, AS Byatt and Carol Shields

Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £25.



Monday 28th November

PEN Quiz, Raphael Gallery at V&A Museum


Friday 9th December 6.30-8.30

Christmas Party

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1. Tickets £20


Go Top

– 2006

Monday 24th April 12.45 for 1.00

Special Forces Club, 8 Herbert Crescent, SW1

Sarah Helm will talk about researching her biography A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE.


Wednesday 24th May 12.45 for 1.00

Kazan, 93-94 Wilton Road, SW1

Diana Souhami’s talk ‘Subverting Biography’ is about her forthcoming book Coconut Chaos, which she describes as covering everything from chaos theory and cargo ships to the Mutiny on the Bounty and lesbian seduction at sea.


Wednesday 24th May 6.30 for 7.00

The Savile Club, 69 Brook St, W1

Lisa Chaney will be discussing her life of JM Barrie. Talk £10 with a glass of wine or £25 to include supper. You should book direct with the Savile on 0207 629 5462.


Tuesday 20th June 6.30-8.30

Garden, Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall

Summer Party



Biographers Club Prize lunch.


Monday 27th November

Cafe Royal, Regent St

PEN Media Biz Quiz.


Monday 4th December 6.30 to 8.30

Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, W1

Christmas Party


Go Top