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Mapping LivesThe Uses of Biography$
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Peter France and William St Clair

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263181

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263181.001.0001

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The Biographer as Archaeologist

The Biographer as Archaeologist

(p.219) 12 The Biographer as Archaeologist
Mapping Lives

William St Clair

British Academy

Numerous literary biographies of famous authors were normally shaped by the quantity and the nature of the surviving primary documentary evidences such as diaries, letters, notes of constructions, and descriptions of the commentaries. These sources not only shaped the nature of the biographies but also the biographical method adopted. This chapter discusses the nature of the biographical evidence. It examines how biographers who regard their work primarily as an historical investigation can deal with the hard and immovable fact that the sources on which they necessarily rely are normally likely to provide an unrepresentative record of the patterns of the lived life.

Keywords:   primary documentary evidences, diaries, letters, notes of constructions, commentaries, biographies, biographical method, biographical evidence, sources, unrepresentative record

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