Sunday, January 12, 2014

Michael Holroyd

Michael Holroyd has written celebrated biographies of Hugh Kingsmill, Augustus John, and George Bernard Shaw, as well as the acclaimed Basil Street Blues and Mosaic.

From his 2011 Q & A with the Guardian:

How did you come to write Bernard Shaw?

I was asked to write Shaw's biography by his three copyright holders: the British Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, following the publication of my Life of Lytton Strachey. I was terrified by the immensity of the task and pleaded that I had already begun another biography – a Life of the Welsh artist Augustus John. But the Shaw estate was not so easily put off and a few years later I found myself travelling to Ireland to begin my research into GBS.

What was most difficult about it?

"All length is torture", Antony says after hearing of Cleopatra's death. I remember these words coming into my head as I worked on Shaw. He lived into his mid-90s and, with his shorthand and his secretaries, could write (it seemed to me) more words in a day than I could read in a day. At the end of one letter the best part of 50 pages long, he apologised: "Forgive this long letter. I didn't have time to write a short one." What was I to do with...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue